Text of Plan #990
  WEEK 2  


The Railway Children  by Edith Nesbit

Peter's Coal-Mine

dropcap image HAT fun!" said Mother, in the dark, feeling for the matches on the table. "How frightened the poor mice were—I don't believe they were rats at all."

She struck a match and relighted the candle and everyone looked at each other by its winky, blinky light.

"Well," she said, "you've often wanted something to happen and now it has. This is quite an adventure, isn't it? I told Mrs. Viney to get us some bread and butter, and meat and things, and to have supper ready. I suppose she's laid it in the dining-room. So let's go and see."

The dining-room opened out of the kitchen. It looked much darker than the kitchen when they went in with the one candle. Because the kitchen was whitewashed, but the dining-room was dark wood from floor to ceiling, and across the ceiling there were heavy black beams. There was a muddled maze of dusty furniture—the breakfast-room furniture from the old home where they had lived all their lives. It seemed a very long time ago, and a very long way off.

There was the table certainly, and there were chairs, but there was no supper.

"Let's look in the other rooms," said Mother; and they looked. And in each room was the same kind of blundering half-arrangement of furniture, and fire-irons and crockery, and all sorts of odd things on the floor, but there was nothing to eat; even in the pantry there were only a rusty cake-tin and a broken plate with whitening mixed in it.

"What a horrid old woman!" said Mother; "she's just walked off with the money and not got us anything to eat at all."

"Then shan't we have any supper at all?" asked Phyllis, dismayed, stepping back on to a soap-dish that cracked responsively.

"Oh, yes," said Mother, "only it'll mean unpacking one of those big cases that we put in the cellar. Phil, do mind where you're walking to, there's a dear. Peter, hold the light."

The cellar door opened out of the kitchen. There were five wooden steps leading down. It wasn't a proper cellar at all, the children thought, because its ceiling went up as high as the kitchen's. A bacon-rack hung under its ceiling. There was wood in it, and coal. Also the big cases.

Peter held the candle, all on one side, while Mother tried to open the great packing-case. It was very securely nailed down.

"Where's the hammer?" asked Peter.

"That's just it," said Mother. "I'm afraid it's inside the box. But there's a coal-shovel—and there's the kitchen poker."

And with these she tried to get the case open.

"Let me do it," said Peter, thinking he could do it better himself. Everyone thinks this when he sees another person stirring a fire, or opening a box, or untying a knot in a bit of string.

"You'll hurt your hands, Mammy," said Roberta; "let me."

"I wish Father was here," said Phyllis; "he'd get it open in two shakes. What are you kicking me for, Bobbie?"

"I wasn't," said Roberta.

Just then the first of the long nails in the packing-case began to come out with a scrunch. Then a lath was raised and then another, till all four stood up with the long nails in them shining fiercely like iron teeth in the candle-light.

"Hooray!" said Mother; "here are some candles—the very first thing! You girls go and light them. You'll find some saucers and things. Just drop a little candle-grease in the saucer and stick the candle upright in it."

"How many shall we light?"

"As many as ever you like," said Mother, gaily. "The great thing is to be cheerful. Nobody can be cheerful in the dark except owls and dormice."

So the girls lighted candles. The head of the first match flew off and stuck to Phyllis's finger; but, as Roberta said, it was only a little burn, and she might have had to be a Roman martyr and be burned whole if she had happened to live in the days when those things were fashionable.

Then, when the dining-room was lighted by fourteen candles, Roberta fetched coal and wood and lighted a fire.

"It's very cold for May," she said, feeling what a grown-up thing it was to say.

The fire-light and the candle-light made the dining-room look very different, for now you could see that the dark walls were of wood, carved here and there into little wreaths and loops.

The girls hastily "tidied" the room, which meant putting the chairs against the wall, and piling all the odds and ends into a corner and partly hiding them with the big leather arm-chair that Father used to sit in after dinner.

"Bravo!" cried Mother, coming in with a tray full of things. "This is something like! I'll just get a tablecloth and then—"

The tablecloth was in a box with a proper lock that was opened with a key and not with a shovel, and when the cloth was spread on the table, a real feast was laid out on it.

Everyone was very, very tired, but everyone cheered up at the sight of the funny and delightful supper. There were biscuits, the Marie and the plain kind, sardines, preserved ginger, cooking raisins, and candied peel and marmalade.

"What a good thing Aunt Emma packed up all the odds and ends out of the Store cupboard," said Mother. "Now, Phil, don't  put the marmalade spoon in among the sardines."

"No, I won't, Mother," said Phyllis, and put it down among the Marie biscuits.

"Let's drink Aunt Emma's health," said Roberta, suddenly; "what should we have done if she hadn't packed up these things? Here's to Aunt Emma!"

And the toast was drunk in ginger wine and water, out of willow-patterned tea-cups, because the glasses couldn't be found.

They all felt that they had been a little hard on Aunt Emma. She wasn't a nice cuddly person like Mother, but after all it was she who had thought of packing up the odds and ends of things to eat.

It was Aunt Emma, too, who had aired all the sheets ready; and the men who had moved the furniture had put the bedsteads together, so the beds were soon made.

"Good night, chickies," said Mother. "I'm sure there aren't any rats. But I'll leave my door open, and then if a mouse comes, you need only scream, and I'll come and tell it exactly what I think of it."

Then she went to her own room. Roberta woke to hear the little travelling clock chime two. It sounded like a church clock ever so far away, she always thought. And she heard, too, Mother still moving about in her room.

Next morning Roberta woke Phyllis by pulling her hair gently, but quite enough for her purpose.

"Wassermarrer?" asked Phyllis, still almost wholly asleep.

"Wake up! wake up!" said Roberta. "We're in the new house—don't you remember? No servants or anything. Let's get up and begin to be useful. We'll just creep down mouse-quietly, and have everything beautiful before Mother gets up. I've woke Peter. He'll be dressed as soon as we are."

So they dressed quietly and quickly. Of course, there was no water in their room, so when they got down they washed as much as they thought was necessary under the spout of the pump in the yard. One pumped and the other washed. It was splashy but interesting.

"It's much more fun than basin washing," said Roberta. "How sparkly the weeds are between the stones, and the moss on the roof—oh, and the flowers!"

The roof of the back kitchen sloped down quite low. It was made of thatch and it had moss on it, and house-leeks and stonecrop and wallflowers, and even a clump of purple flag-flowers, at the far corner.

"This is far, far, far and away prettier than Edgecombe Villa," said Phyllis. "I wonder what the garden's like."

"We mustn't think of the garden yet," said Roberta, with earnest energy. "Let's go in and begin to work."

They lighted the fire and put the kettle on, and they arranged the crockery for breakfast; they could not find all the right things, but a glass ash-tray made an excellent salt-cellar, and a newish baking-tin seemed as if it would do to put bread on, if they had any.

When there seemed to be nothing more that they could do, they went out again into the fresh bright morning.

"We'll go into the garden now," said Peter. But somehow they couldn't find the garden. They went round the house and round the house. The yard occupied the back, and across it were stables and outbuildings. On the other three sides the house stood simply in a field, without a yard of garden to divide it from the short smooth turf. And yet they had certainly seen the garden wall the night before.

It was a hilly country. Down below they could see the line of the railway, and the black yawning mouth of a tunnel. The station was out of sight. There was a great bridge with tall arches running across one end of the valley.

"Never mind the garden," said Peter; "let's go down and look at the railway. There might be trains passing."

"We can see them from here," said Roberta, slowly; "let's sit down a bit."

So they all sat down on a great flat grey stone that had pushed itself up out of the grass; it was one of many that lay about on the hillside, and when Mother came out to look for them at eight o'clock, she found them deeply asleep in a contented, sun-warmed bunch.


They had made an excellent fire, and had set the kettle on it at about half-past five. So that by eight the fire had been out for some time, the water had all boiled away, and the bottom was burned out of the kettle. Also they had not thought of washing the crockery before they set the table.

"But it doesn't matter—the cups and saucers, I mean," said Mother. "Because I've found another room—I'd quite forgotten there was one. And it's magic! And I've boiled the water for tea in a saucepan."

The forgotten room opened out of the kitchen. In the agitation and half darkness the night before its door had been mistaken for a cupboard's. It was a little square room, and on its table, all nicely set out, was a joint of cold roast beef, with bread, butter, cheese, and a pie.

"Pie for breakfast!" cried Peter; "how perfectly ripping!"

"It isn't pigeon-pie," said Mother; "it's only apple. Well, this is the supper we ought to have had last night. And there was a note from Mrs. Viney. Her son-in-law has broken his arm, and she had to get home early. She's coming this morning at ten."

That was a wonderful breakfast. It is unusual to begin the day with cold apple pie, but the children all said they would rather have it than meat.

"You see it's more like dinner than breakfast to us," said Peter, passing his plate for more, "because we were up so early."

The day passed in helping Mother to unpack and arrange things. Six small legs quite ached with running about while their owners carried clothes and crockery and all sorts of things to their proper places. It was not till quite late in the afternoon that Mother said:

"There! That'll do for to-day. I'll lie down for an hour, so as to be as fresh as a lark by supper-time."

Then they all looked at each other. Each of the three expressive countenances expressed the same thought. That thought was double, and consisted, like the bits of information in the Child's Guide to Knowledge,  of a question and an answer.

Q.  Where shall we go?

A.  To the railway.

So to the railway they went, and as soon as they started for the railway they saw where the garden had hidden itself. It was right behind the stables, and it had a high wall all round.

"Oh, never mind about the garden now!" cried Peter. "Mother told me this morning where it was. It'll keep till to-morrow. Let's get to the railway."

The way to the railway was all down hill over smooth, short turf with here and there furze bushes and grey and yellow rocks sticking out like candied peel from the top of a cake.

The way ended in a steep run and a wooden fence—and there was the railway with the shining metals and the telegraph wires and posts and signals.

They all climbed on to the top of the fence, and then suddenly there was a rumbling sound that made them look along the line to the right, where the dark mouth of a tunnel opened itself in the face of a rocky cliff; next moment a train had rushed out of the tunnel with a shriek and a snort, and had slid noisily past them. They felt the rush of its passing, and the pebbles on the line jumped and rattled under it as it went by.

"Oh!" said Roberta, drawing a long breath; "it was like a great dragon tearing by. Did you feel it fan us with its hot wings?"

"I suppose a dragon's lair might look very like that tunnel from the outside," said Phyllis.

But Peter said:

"I never thought we should ever get as near to a train as this. It's the most ripping sport!"

"Better than toy-engines, isn't it?" said Roberta.

(I am tired of calling Roberta by her name. I don't see why I should. No one else did. Everyone else called her Bobbie, and I don't see why I shouldn't.)

"I don't know; it's different," said Peter. "It seems so odd to see all  of a train. It's awfully tall, isn't it?"

"We've always seen them cut in half by platforms," said Phyllis.

"I wonder if that train was going to London," Bobbie said. "London's where Father is."

"Let's go down to the station and find out," said Peter.

So they went.

They walked along the edge of the line, and heard the telegraph wires humming over their heads. When you are in the train, it seems such a little way between post and post, and one after another the posts seem to catch up the wires almost more quickly than you can count them. But when you have to walk, the posts seem few and far between.

But the children got to the station at last.

Never before had any of them been at a station, except for the purpose of catching trains—or perhaps waiting for them—and always with grown-ups in attendance, grown-ups who were not themselves interested in stations, except as places from which they wished to get away.

Never before had they passed close enough to a signal-box to be able to notice the wires, and to hear the mysterious "ping, ping," followed by the strong, firm clicking of machinery.

The very sleepers on which the rails lay were a delightful path to travel by—just far enough apart to serve as the stepping-stones in a game of foaming torrents hastily organised by Bobbie.

Then to arrive at the station, not through the booking office, but in a freebooting sort of way by the sloping end of the platform. This in itself was joy.

Joy, too, it was to peep into the porters' room, where the lamps are, and the Railway almanac on the wall, and one porter half asleep behind a paper.

There were a great many crossing lines at the station; some of them just ran into a yard and stopped short, as though they were tired of business and meant to retire for good. Trucks stood on the rails here, and on one side was a great heap of coal—not a loose heap, such as you see in your coal cellar, but a sort of solid building of coals with large square blocks of coal outside used just as though they were bricks, and built up till the heap looked like the picture of the Cities of the Plain in Bible Stories for Infants.  There was a line of whitewash near the top of the coaly wall.

When presently the Porter lounged out of his room at the twice-repeated tingling thrill of a gong over the station door, Peter said, "How do you do?" in his best manner, and hastened to ask what the white mark was on the coal for.

"To mark how much coal there be," said the Porter, "so as we'll know if anyone nicks it. So don't you go off with none in your pockets, young gentleman!"

This seemed, at the time but a merry jest, and Peter felt at once that the Porter was a friendly sort with no nonsense about him. But later the words came back to Peter with a new meaning.

Have you ever gone into a farmhouse kitchen on a baking day, and seen the great crock of dough set by the fire to rise? If you have, and if you were at that time still young enough to be interested in everything you saw, you will remember that you found yourself quite unable to resist the temptation to poke your finger into the soft round of dough that curved inside the pan like a giant mushroom. And you will remember that your finger made a dent in the dough, and that slowly, but quite surely, the dent disappeared, and the dough looked quite the same as it did before you touched it. Unless, of course, your hand was extra dirty, in which case, naturally, there would be a little black mark.

Well, it was just like that with the sorrow the children had felt at Father's going away, and at Mother's being so unhappy. It made a deep impression, but the impression did not last long.

They soon got used to being without Father, though they did not forget him; and they got used to not going to school, and to seeing very little of Mother, who was now almost all day shut up in her upstairs room writing, writing, writing. She used to come down at tea-time and read aloud the stories she had written. They were lovely stories.

The rocks and hills and valleys and trees, the canal, and above all, the railway, were so new and so perfectly pleasing that the remembrance of the old life in the villa grew to seem almost like a dream.

Mother had told them more than once that they were "quite poor now," but this did not seem to be anything but a way of speaking. Grown-up people, even Mothers, often make remarks that don't seem to mean anything in particular, just for the sake of saying something, seemingly. There was always enough to eat, and they wore the same kind of nice clothes they had always worn.

But in June came three wet days; the rain came down, straight as lances, and it was very, very cold. Nobody could go out, and everybody shivered. They all went up to the door of Mother's room and knocked.

"Well, what is it?" asked Mother from inside.

"Mother," said Bobbie, "mayn't I light a fire? I do know how."

And Mother said: "No, my ducky-love. We mustn't have fires in June—coal is so dear. If you're cold, go and have a good romp in the attic. That'll warm you."

"But, Mother, it only takes such a very little coal to make a fire."

"It's more than we can afford, chickeny-love," said Mother, cheerfully. "Now run away, there's darlings—I'm madly busy!"

"Mother's always busy now," said Phyllis, in a whisper to Peter. Peter did not answer. He shrugged his shoulders. He was thinking.

Thought, however, could not long keep itself from the suitable furnishing of a bandit's lair in the attic. Peter was the bandit, of course. Bobbie was his lieutenant, his band of trusty robbers, and, in due course, the parent of Phyllis, who was the captured maiden for whom a magnificent ransom—in horse-beans—was unhesitatingly paid.

They all went down to tea flushed and joyous as any mountain brigands.

But when Phyllis was going to add jam to her bread and butter, Mother said:

"Jam or  butter, dear—not jam and  butter. We can't afford that sort of reckless luxury nowadays."

Phyllis finished the slice of bread and butter in silence, and followed it up by bread and jam. Peter mingled thought and weak tea.

After tea they went back to the attic and he said to his sisters:

"I have an idea."

"What's that?" they asked politely.

"I shan't tell you," was Peter's unexpected rejoinder.

"Oh, very well," said Bobbie; and Phil said, "Don't, then."

"Girls," said Peter, "are always so hasty tempered."

"I should like to know what boys are?" said Bobbie, with fine disdain. "I don't want to know about your silly ideas."

"You'll know some day," said Peter, keeping his own temper by what looked exactly like a miracle; "if you hadn't been so keen on a row, I might have told you about it being only noble-heartedness that made me not tell you my idea. But now I shan't tell you anything at all about it—so there!"

And it was, indeed, some time before he could be induced to say anything, and when he did it wasn't much. He said:

"The only reason why I won't tell you my idea that I'm going to do is because it may  be wrong, and I don't want to drag you into it."

"Don't you do it if it's wrong, Peter," said Bobbie; "let me do it." But Phyllis said:

"I  should like to do wrong if you're  going to!"

"No," said Peter, rather touched by this devotion; "it's a forlorn hope, and I'm going to lead it. All I ask is that if Mother asks where I am, you won't blab."

"We haven't got anything to  blab," said Bobbie, indignantly.

"Oh, yes, you have!" said Peter, dropping horse-beans through his fingers. "I've trusted you to the death. You know I'm going to do a lone adventure—and some people might think it wrong—I don't. And if Mother asks where I am, say I'm playing at mines."

"What sort of mines?"

"You just say mines."

"You might tell us,  Pete."

"Well, then, coal- mines. But don't you let the word pass your lips on pain of torture."

"You needn't threaten," said Bobbie, "and I do think you might let us help."

"If I find a coal-mine, you shall help cart the coal," Peter condescended to promise.

"Keep your secret if you like," said Phyllis.

"Keep it if you can,"  said Bobbie.

"I'll keep it, right enough," said Peter.

Between tea and supper there is an interval even in the most greedily regulated families. At this time Mother was usually writing, and Mrs. Viney had gone home.

Two nights after the dawning of Peter's idea he beckoned the girls mysteriously at the twilight hour.

"Come hither with me," he said, "and bring the Roman Chariot."

The Roman Chariot was a very old perambulator that had spent years of retirement in the loft over the coach-house. The children had oiled its works till it glided noiseless as a pneumatic bicycle, and answered to the helm as it had probably done in its best days.

"Follow your dauntless leader," said Peter, and led the way down the hill towards the station.

Just above the station many rocks have pushed their heads out through the turf as though they, like the children, were interested in the railway.

In a little hollow between three rocks lay a heap of dried brambles and heather.

Peter halted, turned over the brushwood with a well-scarred boot, and said:

"Here's the first coal from the St. Peter's Mine. We'll take it home in the chariot. Punctuality and despatch. All orders carefully attended to. Any shaped lump cut to suit regular customers."

The chariot was packed full of coal. And when it was packed it had to be unpacked again because it was so heavy that it couldn't be got up the hill by the three children, not even when Peter harnessed himself to the handle with his braces, and firmly grasping his waistband in one hand pulled while the girls pushed behind.

Three journeys had to be made before the coal from Peter's mine was added to the heap of Mother's coal in the cellar.

Afterwards Peter went out alone, and came back very black and mysterious.

"I've been to my coal-mine," he said; "to-morrow evening we'll bring home the black diamonds in the chariot."

It was a week later that Mrs. Viney remarked to Mother how well this last lot of coal was holding out.

The children hugged themselves and each other in complicated wriggles of silent laughter as they listened on the stairs. They had all forgotten by now that there had ever been any doubt in Peter's mind as to whether coal-mining was wrong.

But there came a dreadful night when the Station Master put on a pair of old sand shoes that he had worn at the seaside in his summer holiday, and crept out very quietly to the yard where the Sodom and Gomorrah heap of coal was, with the whitewashed line round it. He crept out there, and he waited like a cat by a mousehole. On the top of the heap something small and dark was scrabbling and rattling furtively among the coal.

The Station Master concealed himself in the shadow of a brake-van that had a little tin chimney and was labelled:

 G. N. and S. R.


Return at once to

White Heather Sidings,

and in this concealment he lurked till the small thing on the top of the heap ceased to scrabble and rattle, came to the edge of the heap, cautiously let itself down, and lifted something after it. Then the arm of the Station Master was raised, the hand of the Station Master fell on a collar, and there was Peter firmly held by the jacket, with an old carpenter's bag full of coal in his trembling clutch.

"So I've caught you at last, have I, you young thief?" said the Station Master.

"I'm not a thief," said Peter, as firmly as he could. "I'm a coal-miner."

"Tell that to the Marines," said the Station Master.

"It would be just as true whoever I told it to," said Peter.

"Stow your jaw, you young rip, and come along to the station."

"Oh, no," cried in the darkness an agonised voice that was not Peter's.

"Not the police  station!" said another voice from the darkness.

"Not yet," said the Station Master. "The Railway Station first. Why, it's a regular gang. Any more of you?"

"Only us," said Bobbie and Phyllis, coming out of the shadow of another truck labelled Staveley Colliery, and bearing on it the legend in white chalk: "Wanted in No. 1 Road."

"What do you mean by spying on a fellow like this?" said Peter, angrily.

"Time someone did spy on you, I  think," said the Station Master. "Come along to the station."

"Oh, don't! " said Bobbie. "Can't you decide now  what you'll do to us? It's our fault just as much as Peter's. We helped to carry the coal away—and we knew where he got it."

"No, you didn't," said Peter.

"Yes, we did," said Bobbie. "We knew all the time. We only pretended we didn't just to humour you."

Peter's cup was full. He had mined for coal, he had struck coal, he had been caught, and now he learned that his sisters had "humoured" him.

"Don't hold me!" he said. "I won't run away."

The Station Master loosed Peter's collar, struck a match and looked at them by its flickering light.

"Why," said he, "you're the children from the Three Chimneys up yonder. So nicely dressed, too. Tell me now, what made you do such a thing? Haven't you ever been to church or learned your catechism or anything, not to know it's wicked to steal?" He spoke much more gently now, and Peter said:

"I didn't think it was stealing. I was almost sure it wasn't. I thought if I took it from the outside part of the heap, perhaps it would be. But in the middle I thought I could fairly count it only mining. It'll take thousands of years for you to burn up all that coal and get to the middle parts."

"Not quite. But did you do it for a lark or what?"

"Not much lark carting that beastly heavy stuff up the hill," said Peter, indignantly.

"Then why did you?" The Station Master's voice was so much kinder now that Peter replied:

"You know that wet day? Well, Mother said we were too poor to have a fire. We always had fires when it was cold at our other house, and—"

"Don't! " interrupted Bobbie, in a whisper.

"Well," said the Station Master, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, "I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll look over it this once. But you remember, young gentleman, stealing is stealing, and what's mine isn't yours, whether you call it mining or whether you don't. Run along home."

"Do you mean you aren't going to do anything to us? Well, you are a brick," said Peter, with enthusiasm.

"You're a dear," said Bobbie.

"You're a darling," said Phyllis.

"That's all right," said the Station Master.

And on this they parted.

"Don't speak to me," said Peter, as the three went up the hill. "You're spies and traitors—that's what you are."

But the girls were too glad to have Peter between them, safe and free, and on the way to Three Chimneys and not to the Police Station, to mind much what he said.

"We did  say it was us as much as you," said Bobbie, gently.

"Well—and it wasn't."

"It would have come to the same thing in Courts with judges," said Phyllis. "Don't be snarky, Peter. It isn't our fault your secrets are so jolly easy to find out." She took his arm, and he let her.

"There's an awful lot of coal in the cellar, anyhow," he went on.

"Oh, don't!" said Bobbie. "I don't think we ought to be glad about that."

"I don't know," said Peter, plucking up a spirit. "I'm not at all sure, even now, that mining is a crime."

But the girls were quite sure. And they were also quite sure that he was quite sure, however little he cared to own it.


Heroes of the Middle Ages  by Eva March Tappan

Attila the Hun

W HILE Alaric was winning his victories, the Huns had built on the banks of the Danube what they looked upon as their capital. The homes of the poorer folk were huts of mud or straw; but the king Attila, and his chief men lived in houses of wood with columns finely carved and polished. There was plenty of some kinds of luxury in this strange capital, for the tables of the chiefs were loaded with golden dishes; and swords, shoes, and even the trappings of the horses gleamed with gold and sparkled with jewels. King Attila, however, would have no such elegance. "I live as did my ancestors," he declared; and in his wooden palace he wore only the plainest of clothes. He ate nothing but flesh, and he was served from rough wooden bowls and plates. Nevertheless, he was proud of his wealth because it had been taken from enemies, and so was a proof of the bravery and daring of his people.

This king of a barbarous tribe meant to become the greatest of conquerors. Even in the early years of his reign he had hoped to do this. It is said that one of his shepherds noticed one day that the foot of an ox was wet with blood. He searched for the cause, and discovered a sharp point of steel sticking up from the ground. He began to dig around it, and soon saw that it was a sword. "That must go to the king," he said to himself, and he set out for the palace. King Attila examined the weapon closely and declared, "This is the sword of Tyr. I will wear it as long as I live, for no one who wears the sword of the war-god can ever know defeat."

When Attila had made his preparations, he set out with his followers to conquer the world. Before long, Constantinople was in his power. The Emperor in the East called himself the Invincible Augustus, but he could not meet Attila, and to save his city and his life he had to give the barbarians 6000 pounds of gold and a large tract of land on the Roman side of the Danube.

Wherever Attila went, he was successful. His ferocious warriors rode like the wind. They would dash down upon some village, kill the inhabitants, snatch up whatever there was of booty, and level the homes of the people so completely that it was said a horse could gallop over the ruins without danger of stumbling. In the far East, he was thought to be a magician. "The Huns have a wonder-stone," declared the folk of that region, "and whenever they choose they can raise storms of wind or rain." It is no wonder that men trembled at the sound of Attila's name and shuddered at the thought of the Scourge of God, as he called himself, when they heard any strange sound in the night. "Attila and his Huns are the children of demons," they whispered; and those who had seen them were ready to believe that this was true. They were of a different family from the Goths and Celts and Romans. They were short and thick-set, with big heads and dark, swarthy complexions. Their eyes were small and bright, and so deep-set that they seemed to be far back in their skulls. Their turned-up noses were so short and broad that it was commonly said they had no noses, but only two holes in their faces.

Although Attila had made peace with the Emperor in the East, before long he found an excuse for invading his empire. With the sword of Tyr in his hand, he swept across what is now Germany and France, killing and burning wherever he went. When he came to Orleans, he expected that city to yield as the others had done; but the people had just made their fortifications stronger, and they had no idea of surrendering even to the terrible Huns. But before long, Attila had got possession of the suburbs, he had weakened the walls with his battering-rams, and the people of Orleans began to tremble with fear. Those who could not bear arms were at the altars praying, and their bishop was trying to encourage them by declaring that God would never abandon those who put their trust in Him. "Go to the rampart," he bade a faithful attendant, "and tell me if aid is not at hand." "What did you see?" he asked when the messenger returned. "Nothing," was the reply. A little later the man was sent again, but he had nothing of comfort to report. A third time he climbed the rampart, and now he ran back to the bishop, crying, "A cloud! there is a cloud on the horizon as if made by an army marching!" "It is the aid of God," the bishop exclaimed. "It is the aid of God," repeated the people, and they fought with fresh courage. The cloud grew larger and larger. Now and then there was a flash of steel or the gleam of a war banner. The bishop was right; it was the brave Roman general Aëtius with his army, and Orleans was saved.

Attila withdrew to the plain of Châlons. The Romans and their former foes, the Goths, had united against him, and on this plain was fought one of the most bloody battles ever known. It raged from the middle of the afternoon until night, and some of the people of the country believed that in the darkness the spirits of those who had fallen arose and kept up the fight in mid-air. Attila retreated across the Rhine. If he had won the day the heathen Huns instead of the Christian Germans would have become the most powerful people of Europe. That is why this conflict at Châlons is counted as one of the decisive battles of the world.


(Relief on ivory tablet found at Monza.)

After a winter's rest, Attila started to invade Italy. He meant to go straight to Rome, but the strong city of Aquileia was in his way. After a long siege, however, it yielded. Some of the inhabitants of that and other conquered cities fled to a group of marshy islands, where Venice now stands. City after city he captured and burned. But this wild Hun was not without a sense of humour. While he was strolling through the royal palace in Milan, he came across a picture showing Roman emperors on their thrones with Scythian chiefs kneeling before them and paying them tribute of bags of gold. Attila did not draw the sword of Tyr and cut the picture to fragments; he simply sent for painter and said, "Put those kneeling men upon the thrones, and paint the emperors kneeling to pay tribute."

The Romans were thoroughly frightened, for now Attila was near their city. Aëtius was calm and brave, but he was without troops. Then Pope Leo I., courageous as the Bishop of Orleans, went forth to meet the Huns, and begged Attila to spare the city. Attila yielded, but no one knows why. A legend arose, that the apostles Peter and Paul appeared to him and declared that he should die at once if he did not grant the prayers of Leo. It is certain that before he started for Rome his friends had said to him, "Beware! Remember that Alaric conquered Rome and died." He had no fear of a sword, but he may have been afraid of such warnings as this. Whatever was the reason, he agreed to spare Rome if the Romans would pay him a large ransom.

The gold was paid, and Attila returned to his wooden palace on the Danube. Soon after this he suddenly died. His followers cut off their hair and gashed their faces, so that blood rather than tears might flow for him. His body was enclosed in three coffins, one of gold, one of silver, and one of iron. It was buried at night with a vast amount of treasure. Then, as in the case of Alaric, the captives who had dug the grave were put to death. His followers belonged to different races. Several chieftains tried to become king, but no one of them was strong enough to hold the tribes together, and they were soon scattered, and the power of the Huns declined forever.


Fannie Stearns Gifford

Moon Folly

(The Song of Conn the Fool)

I will go up the mountain after the Moon:

She is caught in a dead fir-tree.

Like a great pale apple of silver and pearl,

Like a great pale apple is she.

I will leap and will catch her with quick cold hands

And carry her home in my sack.

I will set her down safe on the oaken bench

That stands at the chimney-back.

And then I will sit by the fire all night,

And sit by the fire all day.

I will gnaw at the Moon to my heart's delight

Till I gnaw her slowly away.

And while I grow mad with the Moon's cold taste

The World will beat at my door,

Crying "Come out!" and crying "Make haste,

And give us the Moon once more!"

But I shall not answer them ever at all.

I shall laugh, as I count and hide

The great black beautiful Seeds of the Moon

In a flower-pot deep and wide.

Then I shall lie down and go fast asleep,

Drunken with flame and aswoon.

But the seeds will sprout and the seeds will leap,

The subtle swift seeds of the Moon.

And some day, all of the World that cries

And beats at my door shall see

A thousand moon-leaves spring from my thatch

On a wonderful white Moon-tree!

Then each shall have Moons to his heart's desire:

Apples of silver and pearl;

Apples of orange and copper fire

Setting his five wits aswirl!

And then they will thank me, who mock me now,

"Wanting the Moon is he,"—

Oh, I'm off to the mountain after the Moon,

Ere she falls from the dead fir-tree!


  WEEK 2  


Our Island Story  by H. E. Marshall

Henry VI of Windsor—The Maid of Orleans

W HEN Henry V. died in 1422 A.D., his son, who was also called Henry, was only a tiny baby nine months old. Yet the people had loved Henry V. so much that they chose that this tiny baby should be called their King. Of course a baby nine months old, who could not even speak, could not rule, so his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, ruled instead. Queen Catherine, the baby's mother, married a Welsh gentleman called Owen Tudor, and took no part in ruling the kingdom.

For a little time things seemed to go well, but soon troubles began. Charles, the mad King of France, died about two months after the death of Henry V., and the baby Henry VI. was proclaimed King of France in his place. "May God grant long life to Henry, by the grace of God, King of France and England," cried the heralds. But the Dauphin, Charles, felt that he was the rightful heir, and he, too, called himself King of France.

The baby king of course did not know anything about what was happening, but his uncle John, Duke of Bedford, who ruled France for him, was very angry with the Dauphin and began to fight with him.

The English were so strong that at first they defeated the French armies, and the Dauphin was in despair.

The Scots had been helping the French. To stop them doing so, the English said that they would set their King free if they would promise not to help the French any more. You remember that King James, when he was a little boy, had been taken prisoner by Henry IV., and he had now been in prison for nineteen years.

While in prison James had seen a beautiful lady, from his window, as she walked in the garden of the palace. He loved her, although he had never spoken to her, nor heard her speak. James was a poet as well as a king, and he wrote some beautiful poetry about her.

And therewith cast I down my eyes again,

Where as I walking saw beneath the tower,

Full secretly, new coming her to play,

The fairest and the freshest young flower

That ever I saw, methought, before that hour,

For which sudden surprise, anon did start

The blood of all my body to my heart.

And when she walkèd had a little time

Under the sweet green branches bent,

Her fair, fresh face as white as any snow,

She turned has, and forth her way she went.

But then began my sickness and torment,

To see her go and follow not I might,

Methought the day was turned into night.

Bewailing in my chamber thus alone,

Despairing of all joy and remedy,

Oft weary of my thoughts and woe begone,

Unto the window would I walk in haste,

To see the world and the folk who went forbye,

As for the time, though I of mirthe's food

Might have no more, to look it did me good.

As soon as James was free, he married this beautiful lady and went back to Scotland with her. But before he went the English made him pay a large sum of money in return for all that had been spent on him while he was in prison. He also promised not to help the French in their battles with the English.

So this is why the Scots could no longer fight for the French. But other help came to them. They found a great leader who brought them victory. This great leader was a woman.

In a peaceful little village, far away from the sounds of war, lived a peasant girl called Jeanne d'Arc or as we call her in English, Joan of Arc. She had never been to school. She could neither read nor write. Ever since she had been quite a little girl she had had to work hard all day long in the fields and in the house. But although she was ignorant, Joan was gentle and good, and her heart was full of love for her country.

From time to time stories of battle and loss and death, were brought to the little village by sick and wounded soldiers from the battle-fields. As Joan listened to these stories, tears filled her eyes, and a great longing grew in her heart to do something for her dear country.

She spent long days alone in the fields taking care of her master's sheep. While she watched the sheep, she kept thinking and longing. "What can I do?" she said to herself. "I am only a poor, ignorant girl; what can I do for my country?"

At last it seemed to her as if the empty air around her was full of voices, which answered her question. It seemed to her that saints and angels came to her and whispered that she was chosen to free France.

"Put on the courage and the armour of a man," said the voices, "and lead the armies to victory."

When Joan told people that God had chosen her as captain, they thought at first that she was mad. But she was so earnest and so sure that at last they took her to the Dauphin.

Dressed like a man in shining white armour, riding upon a beautiful white horse, and carrying a white banner sewed with the gold lilies of France, she looked so beautiful and so good that the Dauphin and the soldiers could not but believe in her.

So this peasant girl, who knew nothing of war, who had never before worn armour, nor carried a sword, nor ridden upon a horse, took command of the army. The rough soldiers honoured, obeyed and almost worshipped her. New hope sprang up in their hearts, new strength to fight.

So full of courage were they now, that in less than a week fortune changed, the English began to lose and the French to win. Joan's first fighting was at Orleans, which had been besieged by the English for some months. Joan beat the English and drove them away, and because of that she was afterwards often called the Maid of Orleans. Battle after battle was fought, town after town was taken from the English, until about two months from the time Joan began to fight, the French were so completely victorious that the Dauphin was crowned at Rheims.

It was a very splendid sight. The church was crowded with knights and nobles and rejoicing people, but no one rejoiced more than the Maid of Orleans. Dressed still in her beautiful white armour, holding her white banner in her hand, she stood beside the Dauphin as the crown was placed upon his head and he was proclaimed King of France instead of the little English King Henry VI.

Then when all was over Joan begged to be allowed to go home again to tend sheep once more and to be with her brothers and her sisters. "They would be so glad to see me," she said, "my work here is done."

But the King would not let her go. The English still remained in the country and fighting still went on. So Joan, as she was not allowed to go home, went on fighting too. But one sad day, during a battle, she was wounded and taken prisoner by the English.

The English were very glad of this, because they thought that she was a witch. In those days people still believed in witches and were very much afraid of them. The English thought that no one who was not a witch could have done the wonderful things Joan had done. After being kept in prison for nearly a year, Joan, young, beautiful, and good though she was, was burned as a witch because she had freed her country. The English did not do this wicked deed but, what was almost as bad, they allowed their friends, the Burgundians, who were French, but who had been fighting on the English side, to do it.

After this the English proclaimed Henry VI. King of France at Paris. But it was only an empty show, for he was not really King of France. Fighting still went on, but the English lost more and more till at last they had lost all the lands they had ever held in France. In 1451 A.D., only the town of Calais remained to them, and the Hundred Years' War, begun by Edward III. in 1340 A.D., came to an end.

While these things were happening in France, the baby King of England was growing up to be a man. And a very weak man he grew to be. He was pulled this way and that among his many advisers who ruled the country and quarrelled among themselves.

The lords made the King marry a French lady called Margaret of Anjou. She was very strong-willed and it was really she, more than King Henry, who ruled.

The country was in a very unhappy state. The long wars with France had cost a great deal of money and a great many lives. The people were heavily taxed in order to pay for the wars. The men who were taken away for soldiers very often never came home again. There were not enough people in the country to do the work, and famine, disease, and all kinds of misery followed.

At last the people rebelled, just as they had rebelled in the time of Richard II. under Wat Tyler. This time their leader was called Jack Cade.

It all happened very much as before. The rebels marched to London and camped upon Blackheath. A battle was fought in which the King's men were defeated. Then Jack Cade and his followers were promised what they asked. Many of them afterwards went home quietly, but Jack Cade himself was killed.

This rising lasted only a few weeks, but another struggle which lasted thirty years soon began. This struggle was called the Wars of the Roses.


Winter  by Dallas Lore Sharp

The Turkey Drive

T HE situation was serious enough for the two boys. It was not a large fortune, but it was their whole fortune, that straggled along the slushy road in the shape of five hundred weary, hungry turkeys, which were looking for a roosting-place.

But there was no place where they could roost, no safe place, as the boys well knew, for on each side of the old road stretched the forest trees, a dangerous, and in the weakened condition of the turkeys, an impossible roost on such a night as was coming.

For the warm south wind had again veered to the north; the slush was beginning to grow crusty, and a fine sifting of snow was slanting through the open trees. Although it was still early afternoon, the gloom of the night had already settled over the forest, and the turkeys, with empty crops, were peevishly searching the bare trees for a roost.

It was a strange, slow procession that they made, here in the New Brunswick forest—the flock of five hundred turkeys, toled forward by a boy of eighteen, kept in line by a well-trained shepherd-dog that raced up and down the straggling column, and urged on in the rear by a boy of nineteen, who was followed, in his turn, by an old horse and farm wagon, creeping along behind.

It was growing more difficult all the time to keep the turkeys moving. But they must not be allowed to stop until darkness should put an end to the march. And they must not be allowed to take to the trees at all. Some of them, indeed, were too weak to roost high; but the flock would never move forward again if exposed in the tall trees on such a night as this promised to be.

The thing to do was to keep them stirring. Once allow them to halt, give one of them time to pick out a roosting-limb for himself, and the march would be over for that afternoon. The boys knew their flock. This was not their first drive. They knew from experience that once a turkey gets it into his small head to roost, he is bound to roost. Nothing will stop him. And in this matter the flock acts as a single bird.

In the last village, back along the road, through which they had passed, this very flock took a notion suddenly to go to roost, and to go to roost on a little chapel as the vesper bells were tolling. The bells were tolling, the worshipers were gathering, when, with a loud gobble, one of the turkeys in the flock sailed into the air and alighted upon the ridgepole beside the belfry! Instantly the flock broke ranks, ran wildly round the little building, and with a clamor that drowned the vesper bell, came down on the chapel in a feathered congregation that covered every shingle of the roof. Only the humor and quick wit of the kindly old priest prevented the superstitious of his people from going into a panic. The service had to wait until the birds made themselves comfortable for the night—belfry, roof, window-sills, and porch steps thick with roosting turkeys!

The boys had come to have almost a fear of this mania for roosting, for they never knew when it might break out or what strange turn it might take. They knew now, as the snow and the gray dusk began to thicken in the woods, that the flock must not go to roost. Even the dog understood the signs,—the peevish quint, quint, quint,  the sudden bolting of some gobbler into the brush, the stretching necks, the lagging steps,—and redoubled his efforts to keep the line from halting.

For two days the flock had been without food. Almost a week's supply of grain, enough to carry them through to the border, had been loaded into the wagon before starting in upon this wild, deserted road through the Black Creek region; but the heavy, day-long snowstorm had prevented their moving at all for one day, and had made travel so nearly impossible since then that here they were, facing a blizzard, with night upon them, five hundred starving turkeys straggling wearily before them, and a two days' drive yet to go!

The two brothers had got a short leave from college, and had started their turkey drive in the more settled regions back from the New Brunswick border. They had bought up the turkeys from farm to farm, had herded them in one great flock as they drove them leisurely along, and had moved all the while toward the state line, whence they planned to send them through Maine for the New England market. Upon reaching the railroad, they would rest and feed the birds, and ship them, in a special freight-car ordered in advance, to a Boston commission house, sell the horse and rig for what they could get, and, with their dog, go directly back to college.

More money than they actually possessed had gone into the daring venture. But the drive had been more than successful until the beginning of the Black Creek road. The year before they had gone over the same route, which they had chosen because it was sparsely settled and because the prices were low. This year the farmers were expecting them; the turkeys were plentiful; and the traveling had been good until this early snow had caught them here in the backwoods and held them; and now, with the sudden shift of the wind again to the north, it threatened to delay them farther, past all chance of bringing a single turkey through alive.

But George and Herbert Totman had not worked their way into their junior year at college to sit down by the roadside while there was light to travel by. They were not the kind to let their turkeys go to roost before sundown. It was a slow and solemn procession that moved through the woods, but it moved—toward a goal that they had set for that day's travel.

All day, at long intervals, as they had pushed along the deep forest road, the muffled rumble of distant trains had come to them through the silence; and now, although neither of them had mentioned it, they were determined to get out somewhere near the tracks before the night and the storm should settle down upon them. Their road, hardly more here than a wide trail, must cross the railroad tracks, as they remembered it, not more than two or three miles ahead.

Leaving more and more of the desolate forest behind them with every step, they plodded doggedly on. But there was so much of the same desolate forest still before them! Yet yonder, and not far away, was the narrow path of the iron track through the interminable waste; something human—the very sight of it enough to warm and cheer them. They would camp to-night where they could see a train go by.

The leaden sky lowered closer upon them. The storm had not yet got under full headway, but the fine icy flakes were flying faster, slanting farther, and the wind was beginning to drone through the trees.

Without a halt, the flock moved on through the thickening storm. But the dog was having all that he could do to keep the stragglers in order; and George, in the rear, saw that they must stir the flock, for the birds were gradually falling back into a thick bunch before him.

Hurrying back to the wagon, he got two loaves of bread, and ran ahead with them to Herbert. The famished turkeys seemed to know what he carried, and broke into a run after him. For half a mile they kept up the gait, as both boys, trotting along the road, dropped pieces of bread on the snow.

Then the whole game had to be repeated; for the greater part of the flock, falling hopelessly behind, soon forgot what they were running after, and began to cry, "Quint! quint! quint!" —the roosting-cry! So, starting again in the rear with the bread, George carried the last of the flock forward for another good run.

"We should win this game," Herbert panted, "if we only had loaves enough to make a few more touch-downs."

"There's half an hour yet to play," was George's answer.

"But what on?"

"Oh, on our nerve now," the older boy replied grimly.

"That railroad is not far ahead," said Herbert.

"Half an hour ahead. We've got to camp by that track to-night or—"

"Or what?"

But George had turned to help the dog head off some runaways.

Herbert, picking up a lump of frozen leaves and snow, began to break this in front of the flock to tole them on.

He had hardly started the birds again, when a long-legged gobbler brushed past him and went swinging down the road, calling, "Quint! quint! quint!"  to the flock behind. The call was taken up and passed along the now extended line, which, breaking immediately into double-quick, went streaming after him.

Herbert got out of the way to let them pass, too astonished for a moment to do more than watch them go. It was the roosting-cry! An old gobbler had given it; but as it was taking him, for once, in the right direction, Herbert ordered back the dog that had dashed forward to head him off, and fell in with George to help on the stragglers in the rear.

As the laggards were brought up to a slight rise in the road, the flock was seen a hundred yards ahead, gathered in a dark mass about a telegraph-pole! It could be nothing else, for through the whirling snow the big cross-arms stood out, dim but unmistakable.

It was this that the gobbler had spied and started for, this sawed and squared piece of timber, that had suggested a barnyard to him,—corn and roost,—as to the boys it meant a human presence in the forest and something like human companionship.

It was after four o'clock now, and the night was hard upon them. The wind was strengthening every minute; the snow was coming finer and swifter. The boys' worst fears about the storm were beginning to be realized.

But the sight of the railroad track heartened them. The strong-armed poles, with their humming wires, reached out hands of hope to them; and getting among the turkeys, they began to hurry them off the track and down the steep embankment, which fortunately offered them here some slight protection from the wind. But as fast as they pushed the birds off, the one-minded things came back on the track. The whole flock, meanwhile, was scattering up and down the iron rails and settling calmly down upon them for the night.

They were going to roost upon the track! The railroad bank shelved down to the woods on each side, and along its whitened peak lay the two black rails like ridge-poles along the length of a long roof. In the thick half-light of the whirling snow, the turkeys seemed suddenly to find themselves at home: and as close together as they could crowd, with their breasts all to the storm, they arranged themselves in two long lines upon the steel rails.

And nothing could move them! As fast as one was tossed down the bank, up he came. Starting down the lines, the boys pushed and shoved to clear the track; but the lines re-formed behind them quickly, evenly, and almost without a sound. As well try to sweep back the waves of the sea! They worked together to collect a small band of the birds and drive them into the edge of the woods; but every time the band dwindled to a single turkey that dodged between their legs toward its place on the roost. The two boys could have kept two  turkeys off the rails, but not five hundred.

"The game is up, George," said Herbert, as the sickening thought of a passing train swept over him.

The words were hardly uttered when there came the tankle, tankle  of the big cow-bell hanging from the collar of the horse, that was just now coming up to the crossing!

George caught his breath and started over to stop the horse, when, above the loud hum of the wires and the sound of the wind in the forest trees, they heard through the storm the muffled whistle of a locomotive.

"Quick! The horse, Herbert! Hitch him to a tree and come!" called George, as he dived into the wagon and pulled out their lantern. "Those birds could wreck the train!" he shouted, and hurried forward along the track with his lighted lantern in his hand.

It was not the thought of the turkeys, but the thought of the people on the flying Montreal express,—if that it was,—that sped him up the track. In his imagination he saw the wreck of a ditched train below him; the moans of a hundred mangled beings he heard sounding in his ears!

On into the teeth of the blinding storm he raced, while he strained his eyes for a glimpse of the coming train.

The track seemed to lie straightaway in front of him, and he bent his head for a moment before the wind, when, out of the smother of the snow, the flaring headlight leaped almost upon him.

He sprang aside, stumbled, and pitched headlong down the bank, as the engine of a freight, with a roar that dazed him, swept past.

But the engineer had seen him, and there was a screaming of iron brakes, a crashing of cars together, and a long-drawn shrieking of wheels, as the heavy train slid along the slippery rails to a stop.

As the engineer swung down from his cab, he was met, to his great astonishment, by a dozen turkeys clambering up the embankment toward him. He had plowed his way well among the roosting flock and brushed them unhurt from the rails as the engine skidded along to its slow stop.

By this time the conductor and the train-hands had run forward to see what it all meant, and stood looking at the strange obstruction on the track, when Herbert came into the glare of the headlight and joined them. Then George came panting up, and the boys tried to explain the situation. But their explanation only made a case of sheer negligence out of what at first had seemed a mystery to the trainmen. Both the engineer and the conductor were anxious and surly. Their train was already an hour late; there was a through express behind, and the track must be cleared at once.

And they fell at once to clearing it—conductor, fireman, brakemen, and the two boys. Those railroad men had never tried to clear a track of roosting turkeys before. They cleared it,—a little of it,—but it would not stay cleared, for the turkeys slipped through their hands, squeezed between their legs, ducked about their heels, and got back into place. Finally the conductor, putting two men in line on each rail, ordered the engineer to follow slowly, close upon their heels, with the train, as they scattered the birds before them.

The boys had not once thought of themselves. They had had no time to think of anything but the danger and the delay that they had caused. They helped with all their might to get the train through, and as they worked, silently listened to the repeated threats of the conductor.

At last, with a muttered something, the conductor kicked one of the turkeys into a fluttering heap beneath the engine, and, turning, commanded his crew to stand aside and let the engineer finish the rest of the flock.

The men got away from the track. Then, catching Herbert by the arm, George pointed along the train, and bending, made a tossing motion toward the top of the cars.


"Quick!" he whispered. "One on every car!" and stepping calmly back in front of the engine, he went down the opposite side of the long train.

As he passed the tender, he seized a big gobbler, and sent him with a wild throw up to the top of a low coal-car, just as Herbert, on his side, sent another fluttering up to the same perch. Both birds landed with a flap and a gobble that were heard by the other turkeys up and down the length of the train.

Instantly came a chorus of answering gobbles as every turkey along the track saw, in the failing light, that real buildings—farmyard buildings—were here to roost on! And into the air they went, helped all along the train by the two boys, who were tossing them into the cars, or upon the loads of lumber, as fast as they could pass from car to car.

Luckily, the rails were sleety, and the mighty driving-wheels, spinning on the ice with their long load, which seemed to freeze continually to the track, made headway so slowly that the whole flock had come to roost upon the cars before the train was fairly moving.

Conductor and brakeman, hurrying back to board the caboose, were midway of the train before they noticed what was happening. How  it was happening they did not see at all, so hidden were the movements of the two boys in the swirl of the blinding snow.

For just an instant the conductor checked himself. But it was too late to do anything. The train was moving, and he must keep it moving as fast as he could to the freight-yards ahead at the junction—the very yards where, even now, an empty car was waiting for the overdue turkeys.

As he ran on down the track and swung aboard the caboose, two other figures closed in behind the train. One of them, seizing the other by the arm, landed him safe upon the steps, and then shouted at him through the storm:—

"Certainly you shall! I'm safe enough! I'll drive on to that old sawmill to-night. Feed 'em in the morning and wait for me! Good-by," and as the wind carried his voice away, George Totman found himself staring after a ghost-white car that had vanished in the storm.

He was alone; but the thought of the great flock speeding on to the town ahead was company enough. Besides, he had too much to do, and to do quickly, to think of himself; for the snow was blocking his road, and the cold was getting at him. But how the wires overhead sang to him! How the sounding forest sang to him as he went back to give the horse a snatch of supper!

He was soon on the road, where the wind at his back and the tall trees gave him protection. The four-wheeled wagon pulled hard through the piling snow, but the horse had had an easy day, and George kept him going until, toward eight o'clock, he drew up behind a lofty pile of slabs and sawdust at the old mill.

A wilder storm never filled the resounding forests of the North. The old mill was far from being proof against the fine, icy snow; but when George rolled himself in his heavy blanket and lay down beside his dog, it was to go to sleep to the comfortable munching of the horse, and with the thought that Herbert and the turkeys were safe.

And they were safe. It was late in the afternoon the next day when George, having left the wagon at the mill, came floundering behind the horse through the unbroken road into the streets of the junction, to find Herbert anxiously waiting for him, and the turkeys, with full crops, trying hard to go to roost inside their double-decked car.


William Cowper

The Cricket

Little inmate, full of mirth,

Chirping on my kitchen hearth,

Wheresoe'er be thine abode,

Always harbinger of good,

Pay me for thy warm retreat

With a song more soft and sweet;

In return thou shalt receive

Such a strain as I can give.

Thus thy praise shall be expressed,

Inoffensive, welcome guest!

While the rat is on the scout,

And the mouse with curious snout,

With what vermin else infest

Ev'ry dish, and spoil the best;

Frisking thus before the fire,

Thou hast all thine heart's desire.

Though in voice and shape they be

Formed as if akin to thee,

Thou surpassest, happier far,

Happiest grasshoppers that are;

Theirs is but a summer's song,

Thine endures the winter long,

Unimpaired, and shrill and clear,

Melody throughout the year.

Neither night nor dawn of day

Puts a period to thy play!

Sing, then, and extend thy span

Far beyond the date of man.

Wretched man, whose years are spent

In repining, discontent,

Lives not, aged though he be,

Half a span, compared with thee.


  WEEK 2  


The Story Book of Science  by Jean Henri Fabre

The Fairy Tale and the True Story

T HE six of them were gathered together. Uncle Paul was reading in a big book, Jacques braiding a wicker basket, Mother Ambroisine plying her distaff, Claire marking linen with red thread, Emile and Jules playing with the Noah's Ark. And when they had lined up the horse after the camel, the dog after the horse, then the sheep, donkey, ox, lion, elephant, bear, gazelle, and a great many others,—when they had them all arranged in a long procession leading to the ark, Emile and Jules, tired of playing, said to Mother Ambroisine: "Tell us a story, Mother Ambroisine—one that will amuse us."

And with the simplicity of old age Mother Ambroisine spoke as follows, at the same time twirling her spindle:

"Once upon a time a grasshopper went to the fair with an ant. The river was all frozen. Then the grasshopper gave a jump and landed on the other side of the ice, but the ant could not do this; and it said to the grasshopper: 'Take me on your shoulders; I weigh so little.' But the grasshopper said: 'Do as I do; give a spring, and jump.' The ant gave a spring, but slipped and broke its leg.

"Ice, ice, the strong should be kind; but you are wicked, to have broken the ant's leg—poor little leg.

"Then the ice said: 'The sun is stronger than I, and it melts me.'

"Sun, sun, the strong should be kind; but you are wicked, to melt the ice; and you, ice, to have broken the ant's leg—poor little leg.

"Then the sun said: 'The clouds are stronger than I; they hide me.'

"Clouds, clouds, the strong should be kind; but you are wicked, to hide the sun; you, sun, to melt the ice; and you, ice, to have broken the ant's leg—poor little leg.

"Then the clouds said: 'The wind is stronger than we; it drives us away.'

"Wind, wind, the strong should be kind; but you are wicked, to drive away the clouds; you, clouds, to hide the sun; you, sun, to melt the ice; and you, ice, to have broken the ant's leg—poor little leg.

"Then the wind said: 'The walls are stronger than I; they stop me.'

"Walls, walls, the strong should be kind; but you are wicked, to stop the wind; you, wind, to drive away the clouds; you, clouds, to hide the sun; you, sun, to melt the ice; and you, ice, to have broken the ant's leg—poor little leg.

"Then the walls said: 'The rat is stronger than we; it bores holes through us.'

"Rat, rat, the strong—"

"But it is all the same thing, over and over again, Mother Ambroisine," exclaimed Jules impatiently.

"Not quite, my child. After the rat comes the cat that eats the rat, then the broom that strikes the cat, then the fire that burns the broom, then the water that puts out the fire, then the ox that quenches his thirst with the water, then the fly that stings the ox, then the swallow that snaps up the fly, then the snare that catches the swallow, then—"

"And does it go on very long like that?" asked Emile.

"As long as you please," replied Mother Ambroisine, "for however strong one may be, there are always others stronger still."

"Really, Mother Ambroisine," said Emile, "that story tires me."

"Then listen to this one: Once upon a time there lived a woodchopper and his wife, and they were very poor. They had seven children, the youngest so very, very small that a wooden shoe answered for its bed."

"I know that story," again interposed Emile. "The seven children are going to get lost in the woods. Little Hop-o'-my-Thumb marks the way at first with white pebbles, then with bread crumbs. Birds eat the crumbs. The children get lost. Hop-o'-my-Thumb, from the top of a tree, sees a light in the distance. They run to it: rat-tat-tat! It is the dwelling of an ogre!"

"There is no truth in that," declared Jules, "nor in Puss-in-Boots, nor Cinderella, nor Bluebeard. They are fairy tales, not true stories. For my part, I want stories that are really and truly so."

At the words, true stories, Uncle Paul raised his head and closed his big book. A fine opportunity offered for turning the conversation to more useful and interesting subjects than Mother Ambroisine's old tales.

"I approve of your wanting true stories," said he. "You will find in them at the same time the marvelous, which pleases so much at your age, and also the useful, with which even at your age you must concern yourselves, in preparation for after life. Believe me, a true story is much more interesting than a tale in which ogres smell fresh blood and fairies change pumpkins into carriages and lizards into lackeys. And could it be otherwise? Compared with truth, fiction is but a pitiful trifle; for the former is the work of God, the latter the dream of man. Mother Ambroisine could not interest you with the ant that broke its leg in trying to cross the ice. Shall I be more fortunate? Who wants to hear a true story of real ants?"


White Ant

"I! I!" cried Emile, Jules, and Claire all together.


Builders of Our Country: Book I  by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth

Marco Polo

The Adventures of Nicolo and Maffeo Polo

OF course this round world of ours has not grown any larger or any smaller in the last seven hundred years. What really has grown very much in that time is the amount known about it.

In the year 1200, two hundred years after Leif Ericson had explored one little part of the earth, the people of Eastern Europe really knew very little about geography. They believed, however, that they knew all there was to know. They felt sure that the earth was a great square. On the four sides of the square anyone could see the four blue walls of sky. And resting on the four blue walls were the heavens where dwelt God and His angels. The lands that they knew formed the center of the square. On the west the lands ended in water. On the east lay Cathay, and about Cathay the people of Eastern Europe knew nothing. They thought of it as a great bog or swamp, full of dreadful beasts, hobgoblins, bugaboos, and monsters, which roamed about howling in a way to make one's hair fairly stand on end. And so it is no wonder that few of these people ventured into Cathay.

Now just as they were all wrong about the shape of the earth, so they were all wrong about Cathay. What they called Cathay, we call China; and in 1200 China was no more a swamp than it is to-day.

A mighty people lived in China, and they had a mighty empire and a mighty ruler. Their lands were rich in mines of coal and gold; ebony, bamboo, corn, silk, and spices were plentiful; and game of many sorts made hunting a favorite pastime. The subjects of the mighty Emperor journeyed in all directions, extending his power on every side by conquering the lands they visited.

While the Chinese Empire was thus spreading out north, east, south, and west, the merchants of Italy began, during the thirteenth century, to work gradually farther and farther east in order to increase their commerce.

In 1260 two merchant brothers of Venice, named Nicolo and Maffeo Polo, started on an eastern journey. To travel through the East, or even around the world, takes only a few weeks or months in this twentieth century. But in the thirteenth century traveling was a very different matter. There were no ships better than those of the Northmen, and a railroad was undreamed of. To journey by sea meant to be at the mercy of winds and tides, with no compass. To journey by land, one must go on foot or ride a mule or a horse.

So when the Polo brothers left home they said good-by for a long time—how long no one could tell. They were not bound for any particular point. They merely traveled on and on, making money by trading, seeing new and interesting sights, and still not coming to even the edge of the dreadful swamp which was supposed to lie to the east. They went so far that at last they found themselves before the very palace gates of the Emperor of China.

In those days the Chinese were willing and anxious to learn, and their doors were open to all who might come. The Emperor, whose name was Kublai Khan, was a wise and good ruler. He had never seen any Europeans before, and he welcomed Nicolo and Maffeo Polo to his court with great honor and was delighted to hear all they could tell him. He questioned them about their rulers, how they lived, how they fought. He asked the brothers all about their religion, about the Pope and about Rome. And as Nicolo and Maffeo told him all these things, he grew so interested that he wanted to have his subjects learn about the Christian faith.

Accordingly he urged the two Polos to go back to their own country, carrying a letter from him to the Pope. This letter begged that the Pope would send Kublai Khan one hundred Christians who could teach their faith to his people. One of the Emperor's barons was to go with the Polo brothers. The two merchants willingly undertook the mission and promised to obey all the Emperor's commands.

When they were ready to leave the palace, the Emperor gave them a Tablet of Authority. This was a tablet made of gold, such as was carried by the Emperor's army officers or messengers. On it was engraved Kublai Khan's order to supply them with all they might need in any country they were crossing.

On the long journey home all went well with Nicolo and Maffeo Polo, but the Chinese baron was taken ill and had to be left behind.

In 1269 the two merchants reached Italy, only to find that the Pope was dead. They could not deliver Kublai Khan's letter until a new pope was elected; so, while they waited, they went home to Venice to see their families.

Nicolo's wife, too, had died while he was away, leaving their son, Marco Polo, a boy fifteen years old. For two years Maffeo and Nicolo stayed in Venice with the boy. Then, a new pope being elected, they set out once more on their travels. And this time they took young Marco with them.

Marco Polo in China

FIRST, the Polos went to Rome to see the new Pope. But although he was very gracious and willing to oblige Kublai Khan, he could furnish only two friars instead of the one hundred asked for as teachers. And these two at the last moment were so frightened at the idea of going into Cathay that they would not start.

In the fall of 1271, without a single friar, Nicolo, Maffeo, and Marco Polo and a few followers left Italy to carry the Pope's answer to Kublai Khan.

They crossed Turkey and came to the city of Bagdad. From Bagdad they went on to Persia. They had to be well armed as they traveled along, for in certain parts of Persia the people were very cruel and savage. They would stop at nothing, and often killed a whole party of merchants simply to get their wares.

At length the travelers reached a great plain where the heat was intense. Here and there they came upon a village surrounded by high walls of mud, built to shut out the bands of robbers which were a terror to the whole region.

Now these robbers were supposed to be able to bring such darkness over the plain that men riding side by side could hardly see each other. Then in this darkness the robbers would form long lines of many hundreds of men abreast and ride out over the plain. No one could see them coming, and whoever might be traveling on that part of the plain would be pretty sure to run into the lines and be taken.

Once Marco Polo himself was all but caught in this manner, but he got away and rushed to a nearby village. Only seven others of his party escaped. All the rest were caught and either sold for slaves or put to death.

Marco fully believed the robbers had the power to bring about the dreaded darkness. What really happened were dust storms. The dust of the great plain would rise so thick that no one could see through it. And the robbers, knowing the plains so well that they had no fear of being lost, used the storms to serve their wicked purposes.

Out of the heat of the plain the travelers rode on day after day until they came, after much climbing, to the Pamir Plateau. This plateau was so high that the people of that country named it "The Roof of the World." Here it was as cold as the plain was hot. Twelve days' riding was needed to cross the plateau, and during all that time the travelers had only what food they had brought with them. It was so cold that no people lived here, nothing green could grow, and even no birds were seen.

When Nicolo, Maffeo, Marco, and their followers reached the city of Lob, they stopped for a week's rest. And well they might, for ahead of them lay the great sandy desert of Gobi. It would take a month to ride over even the small part of it which they must cross. All their supplies must be carried, as they could expect nothing from the desert except here and there fresh water from a spring.

The journey was much to be dreaded, for the desert was believed to be haunted. Spirits were supposed to be on the watch for any traveler who might fall behind his party. If one of the party loitered, the spirits would call to him, making him think he heard the voice of his friends, but really leading him off to die alone. The voices were in truth nothing but the blowing of the winds across the sands. But in the silence of the desert and in the fear of being lost, it is no wonder that travelers often fancied themselves called, and rushed off toward the sounds. However, by keeping close together, by tying bells on the necks of their horses, and by putting up a sign at night to show which way they must go in the morning, the Polos crossed the desert in safety.

Finally, after having been nearly four years on the way, they reached Kaipingfu or the City of Peace. Here was the beautiful cane palace where the Emperor spent the summer months, and here the travelers now found the great Kublai Khan.

Kneeling before him, they addressed him with all respect and gave him the letter from the Pope, which said that, although the Polos had not succeeded in doing all that the Emperor wished, still they had faithfully done their best. Kublai Khan was much pleased to see Nicolo and Maffeo again and gave them a cordial welcome. Then, noticing Marco, he asked, "Who is this with you?"

"Sire, this is my son and your liegeman," promptly answered Nicolo.

"Welcome is he too," graciously replied the Emperor. And from that time he took a lively interest in the young man.

At once Marco set himself to learn all he could in this new land. He was soon able to speak several languages, and he quickly came to understand the customs and manners of the Chinese court.

Oftentimes Marco was with the Emperor when some ambassador to a distant province reached home, and nearly always the ambassador would report on just what he had been sent to do and no more. When the Emperor would ask questions about other matters, he would learn little. Then he would say, "I had far rather hear about the strange things and manners of the different countries you have seen than merely to be told of the business you went upon."

Marco Polo remembered this point; and when the Emperor began sending him as ambassador to various parts of the kingdom, he took pains to notice all that was new and strange. On his return, therefore, he could tell Kublai Khan much that was interesting and valuable which he had either seen or learned by asking questions.

He told of a queer way in which bamboo was used in Tibet. He said: "In this region you find quantities of canes, full three palms in girth and fifteen paces in length, with some three palms interval between the joints. And let me tell you that merchants and other travelers are wont at nightfall to gather these canes and make fires of them; for as they burn they make such loud reports that the lions and bears and other wild beasts are greatly frightened and make off as fast as possible—in fact, nothing will induce them to come near a fire of that sort. . . . In fact, but for the help of these canes, which make such a noise in burning that the beasts are terrified and kept at a distance, no one would be able even to travel through the land."

In another province Marco saw crocodiles for the first time. He called them "great serpents" and told of their huge mouths, large enough to swallow a man whole, and of the terrible fear the people had of them.

In still another province Marco found that the men had their teeth covered with cases of gold, which they took off when they ate; and that their arms were tattooed in broad black bands. Excepting in time of war these men did nothing but hunt and take their ease, leaving all the work to their wives and slaves.

Although he never visited Japan, young Polo was much impressed with all he heard about the vast amount of gold, the great number of pearls, the fine woods, and the spices to be found in that empire. Indeed, so glowing were the tales he repeated of these riches, as well as of the diamonds of India, that the reports were never forgotten. After centuries they still influenced explorers looking for wealth.

Year after year Marco Polo, his father, and uncle lived in China. While Marco served the Emperor, the other two gathered riches in various ways. Often they longed to return to their own country, but whenever they talked of leaving, Kublai Khan urged them not to go. However, when they had been in his court for seventeen years, their chance came.

The Khan of Persia was a great nephew to Kublai Khan. He wanted a wife and asked the Chinese Emperor to send him one. A beautiful girl of seventeen was chosen to be his bride. But then came the question of how to get her to Persia. Wars which were being carried on made it unsafe to go by land, and the Chinese were not great sailors. Therefore, when the three Venetians offered to take the little bride by sea, Kublai Khan could not say no.

In 1292 they sailed away from China. The voyage was so stormy that they did not reach the Persian Gulf for twenty-six months, and by that time the Khan who had sent for a wife had died. What became of the poor little princess? She was married offhand to the old Khan's son.

Marco Polo's Return to Venice—His Book

ONE day in the year 1295 the people of Venice were surprised to see coming into their city three wayworn travelers. The strangers were dressed in rather shabby and very queerly cut clothes, and judging from their manner and accent, they came from far away. Who were they and what could they want in Venice?

On they went until they came to the beautiful house which belonged to the ancient family of Polo. Here they stated that they were members of that family and had come home to live. They said that they were Nicolo, Maffeo, and Marco Polo just returning from Cathay. This seemed hardly probable. To be sure many years ago two robust men and a boy, all named Polo, had gone off to that unknown country, but they had been given up for lost long since. Two of these men were old and wrinkled, and the youngest was forty-one. Was it possible that they could have lived twenty-four years in a land supposed to be so terrible?

In some way the strangers convinced their family that they were really Marco, his father, and his uncle; and they were allowed to take possession of their old home.

Still there were friends who doubted. So, to settle these questions for good and all, they invited these friends to a banquet. Everything was of the finest, and the guests were deeply impressed. But when the last course had been served and the servants had left the room, a wonderful sight was in store for them. Marco left the table, went into another room for a moment, and came back carrying the shabby coats which he, Nicolo, and Maffeo had worn on their return to Venice. With sharp knives the three began ripping up the seams. Out rolled rubies, diamonds, emeralds, carbuncles, and sapphires, until the table was covered with so many treasures that no one could even guess at their value. Seeing such wealth the guests were easily convinced that their hosts must indeed have been in the service of the great Emperor they told about.

The story of the dinner and the jewels spread rapidly. Soon all the Venetians flocked to see the great travelers, to pay them every respect, and to hear from them tales of the wonders of the East. Some of these were believed, but many were not, simply because they seemed too unreal to be true.

In the thirteenth century the city of Venice was a republic. So was the city of Genoa. The two republics were deadly rivals and were almost constantly at war with each other. In the year 1298 there was a great naval battle between the two, and Marco Polo was the commander of a powerful galley for the Venetians. The Genoese won the battle and took seven thousand prisoners, one of whom was Marco.

For a year he was imprisoned in Genoa. When he was released he went back to Venice. There he lived for twenty-five years, and there he died in 1324.

But to return to the year Marco Polo spent in the prison in Genoa. This was in truth a most important period of his life. Shut up in the prison with him was a man named Rusticiano. He and Marco became friends; and, to while away the time, Marco told Rusticiano of his adventures in the East. It happened that Rusticiano knew how to write—a rare accomplishment at that time. He was deeply interested in all Marco had to tell of his wonderful travels, and offered to write them in book form. So Marco began over again at the beginning, and as he told the story Rusticiano patiently wrote down all he said.

As there were no printing presses in those days, the book when finished had all been done by hand. But that was not the remarkable part of it. Its great value lay in the fact that it carefully described for the first time a route which had actually been traveled across the entire length of Asia. Here were true stories of the great Chinese Empire, of the wealth of all the Eastern provinces; and, most important of all perhaps, here was the account of a journey taken on a great ocean which lay even beyond those Eastern provinces.

The people of Marco Polo's own time could not make themselves believe all his tales. But in the centuries which followed, the influence of his book was very great.

Years afterwards wise men came gradually to understand that the earth is round. And from this knowledge grew the belief that the ocean to the west of Europe and Marco's ocean to the east of China were all one. So, perhaps for the reason that he was the first to describe the Eastern sea, much credit is due directly to Marco Polo that, sailing west to reach India, two hundred years later, Columbus discovered the American continent.


Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Eagle

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.


  WEEK 2  


Otto of the Silver Hand  by Howard Pyle

How the Baron Went Forth to Shear


B ARON CONRAD and Baroness Matilda sat together at their morning meal; below their raised seats stretched the long, heavy wooden table, loaded with coarse food—black bread, boiled cabbage, bacon, eggs, a great chine from a wild boar, sausages, such as we eat nowadays, and flagons and jars of beer and wine. Along the board sat ranged in the order of the household the followers and retainers. Four or five slatternly women and girls served the others as they fed noisily at the table, moving here and there behind the men with wooden or pewter dishes of food, now and then laughing at the jests that passed or joining in the talk. A huge fire blazed and crackled and roared in the great open fireplace, before which were stretched two fierce, shaggy, wolfish-looking hounds. Outside, the rain beat upon the roof or ran trickling from the eaves, and every now and then a chill draught of wind would breathe through the open windows of the great black dining-hall and set the fire roaring.

Along the dull-gray wall of stone hung pieces of armor, and swords and lances, and great branching antlers of the stag. Overhead arched the rude, heavy, oaken beams, blackened with age and smoke, and underfoot was a chill pavement of stone.

Upon Baron Conrad's shoulder leaned the pale, slender, yellow-haired Baroness, the only one in all the world with whom the fierce lord of Drachenhausen softened to gentleness, the only one upon whom his savage brows looked kindly, and to whom his harsh voice softened with love.

The Baroness was talking to her husband in a low voice, as he looked down into her pale face, with its gentle blue eyes.

"And wilt thou not, then," said she, "do that one thing for me?"

"Nay," he growled, in his deep voice, "I cannot promise thee never more to attack the towns-people in the valley over yonder. How else could I live an' I did not take from the fat town hogs to fill our own larder?"

"Nay," said the Baroness, "thou couldst live as some others do, for all do not rob the burgher folk as thou dost. Alas! mishap will come upon thee some day, and if thou shouldst be slain, what then would come of me?"

"Prut," said the Baron, "thy foolish fears!" But he laid his rough, hairy hand softly upon the Baroness' head and stroked her yellow hair.

"For my sake, Conrad," whispered the Baroness.

A pause followed. The Baron sat looking thoughtfully down into the Baroness' face. A moment more, and he might have promised what she besought; a moment more, and he might have been saved all the bitter trouble that was to follow. But it was not to be.

Suddenly a harsh sound broke the quietness of all into a confusion of noises. Dong! Dong!—it was the great alarm-bell from Melchior's Tower.

The Baron started at the sound. He sat for a moment or two with his hand clinched upon the arm of his seat as though about to rise, then he sunk back into his chair again.

All the others had risen tumultuously from the table, and now stood looking at him, awaiting his orders.

"For my sake, Conrad," said the Baroness again.

Dong! Dong! rang the alarm-bell. The Baron sat with his eyes bent upon the floor, scowling blackly.

The Baroness took his hand in both of hers. "For my sake," she pleaded, and the tears filled her blue eyes as she looked up at him, "do not go this time."

From the courtyard without came the sound of horses' hoofs clashing against the stone pavement, and those in the hall stood watching and wondering at this strange delay of the Lord Baron. Just then the door opened and one came pushing past the rest; it was the one-eyed Hans. He came straight to where the Baron sat, and, leaning over, whispered something into his master's ear.

"For my sake," implored the Baroness again; but the scale was turned. The Baron pushed back his chair heavily and rose to his feet. "Forward!" he roared, in a voice of thunder, and a great shout went up in answer as he strode clanking down the hall and out of the open door.

The Baroness covered her face with her hands and wept.

"Never mind, little bird," said old Ursela, the nurse, soothingly; "he will come back to thee again as he has come back to thee before."

But the poor young Baroness continued weeping with her face buried in her hands, because he had not done that thing she had asked.

A white young face framed in yellow hair looked out into the courtyard from a window above; but if Baron Conrad of Drachenhausen saw it from beneath the bars of his shining helmet, he made no sign.

"Forward!" he cried again.

Down thundered the drawbridge, and away they rode with clashing hoofs and ringing armor through the gray shroud of drilling rain.


Away they rode with clashing hoofs and ringing armor.

The day had passed and the evening had come, and the Baroness and her women sat beside a roaring fire. All were chattering and talking and laughing but two—the fair young Baroness and old Ursela; the one sat listening, listening, listening, the other sat with her chin resting in the palm of her hand, silently watching her young mistress. The night was falling gray and chill, when suddenly the clear notes of a bugle rang from without the castle walls. The young Baroness started, and the rosy light flashed up into her pale cheeks.

"Yes, good," said old Ursela; "the red fox has come back to his den again, and I warrant he brings a fat town goose in his mouth; now we'll have fine clothes to wear, and thou another gold chain to hang about thy pretty neck."

The young Baroness laughed merrily at the old woman's speech. "This time," said she, "I will choose a string of pearls like that one my aunt used to wear, and which I had about my neck when Conrad first saw me."

Minute after minute passed; the Baroness sat nervously playing with a bracelet of golden beads about her wrist. "How long he stays," said she.

"Yes," said Ursela; "but it is not cousin wish that holds him by the coat."

As she spoke, a door banged in the passageway without, and the ring of iron footsteps sounded upon the stone floor. Clank! clank! clank!

The Baroness rose to her feet, her face all alight. The door opened; then the flush of joy faded away and the face grew white, white, white. One hand clutched the back of the bench whereon she had been sitting, the other hand pressed tightly against her side.

It was Hans the one-eyed who stood in the doorway, and black trouble sat on his brow; all were looking at him waiting.

"Conrad," whispered the Baroness, at last. "Where is Conrad? Where is your master?" and even her lips were white as she spoke.

The one-eyed Hans said nothing.

Just then came the noise of men's voices in the corridor and the shuffle and scuffle of feet carrying a heavy load. Nearer and nearer they came, and one-eyed Hans stood aside. Six men came struggling through the doorway, carrying a litter, and on the litter lay the great Baron Conrad. The flaming torch thrust into the iron bracket against the wall flashed up with the draught of air from the open door, and the light fell upon the white face and the closed eyes, and showed upon his body armor a great red stain that was not the stain of rust.

Suddenly Ursela cried out in a sharp, shrill voice, "Catch her, she falls!"

It was the Baroness.

Then the old crone turned fiercely upon the one-eyed Hans. "Thou fool!" she cried, "why didst thou bring him here? Thou hast killed thy lady!"

"I did not know," said the one-eyed Hans, stupidly.



Jataka Tales  by Ellen C. Babbitt

How the Turtle Saved His Own Life

A KING once had a lake made in the courtyard for the young princes to play in. They swam about in it, and sailed their boats and rafts on it. One day the king told them he had asked the men to put some fishes into the lake.

Off the boys ran to see the fishes. Now, along with the fishes, there was a Turtle. The boys were delighted with the fishes, but they had never seen a Turtle, and they were afraid of it, thinking it was a demon. They ran back to their father, crying, "There is a demon on the bank of the lake."

The king ordered his men to catch the demon, and to bring it to the palace. When the Turtle was brought in, the boys cried and ran away.

The king was very fond of his sons, so he ordered the men who had brought the Turtle to kill it.

"How shall we kill it?" they asked.

"Pound it to powder," said some one. "Bake it in hot coals," said another.


"Throw the thing into the lake."

So one plan after another was spoken of. Then an old man who had always been afraid of the water said: "Throw the thing into the lake where it flows out over the rocks into the river. Then it will surely be killed."

When the Turtle heard what the old man said, he thrust out his head and asked: "Friend, what have I done that you should do such a dreadful thing as that to me? The other plans were bad enough, but to throw me into the lake! Don't speak of such a cruel thing!"

When the king heard what the Turtle said, he told his men to take the Turtle at once and throw it into the lake.

The Turtle laughed to himself as he slid away down the river to his old home. "Good!" he said, "those people do not know how safe I am in the water!"


Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Answer to a Child's Question

Do you ask what the birds say? The sparrow, the dove,

The linnet and the thrush say, "I love and I love!"

In winter they're silent—the wind is so strong;

What it says I don't know; but it sings a loud song.

But green leaves and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,

And singing and loving—all come back together.

But the lark is so brimful of gladness and love,

The green fields below him, the blue sky above,

That he sings, and he sings; and forever sings he—

"I love my Love, and my Love loves me!"


  WEEK 2  


The Awakening of Europe  by M. B. Synge

The Struggle in Ireland

"Down thy valleys, Ireland, Ireland,

Down thy valleys green and sad,

Still thy spirit wanders wailing,

Wanders wailing, wanders mad."


W ILLIAM now turned his attention to Ireland, where James II. was stirring up the country against him. Neither was he the first English ruler to turn his eyes towards that unhappy land—that beautiful "Emerald Isle" across the seas, ever in a state of unrest and misery.

What was the story of this strange, lonely island, which was so close to England and yet so far?

Ireland, or Erin, as the poets love to call her, has been compared to a lovely and lonely bride whom England has wedded but has never won. But the time must come—perhaps is not far distant—when bridegroom and bride shall understand one another and shall go forward hand in hand—

"Strong with a strength that no fate might dissever,

One with a oneness no force could divide."

Oliver Cromwell had ruled the people with a firm hand. Indeed he alone of English rulers stamped his image on the country. For eight weary years the Irish had fought for Charles I., and on his death they proclaimed his son king. This had roused Cromwell to action. In the summer of 1649 he landed in Ireland with a huge army. The following spring he returned to England, leaving Ireland once more crushed and lifeless. Her Parliament had ceased to exist, a few Protestant members were transferred to London. Vast military colonies were established by Cromwell, and the large Roman Catholic landowners were exiled to a corner of the country between the Shannon and the sea, called Connaught.

To all outward appearance England and Ireland were now one. But when the English people rose against James II., and drove him over to France, the people of Ireland, ever true to the Stuart cause and the Roman Catholic religion, resolved to support him. Here is one of the legends of how the king arrived in Ireland.

Erin lay awake in bed. Outside a storm was raging and rain was falling in torrents. The wind was howling and roaring down the chimney. Suddenly there was a tap at the door.

"Who is there?" asked Erin.

"It is I, James, son of Charles. I have been driven forth by robbers from the home of my ancestors. Give me shelter, I pray thee, from the fury of the storm."

Quickly Erin unbarred the door and brought in the hapless stranger. She took off his dripping cloak, gave him dry clothes, put fresh peat upon the fire, supplied him with food and shelter, and promised to help him.

The appearance of James in Ireland was hailed with enthusiasm. As a king, as a Roman Catholic, as a man in deep misfortune, he had a claim on the feelings of a warm-hearted race of people. He had landed at Kinsale on March 12, 1689. From Cork to Dublin people ran before him in crowds to greet him with tears and blessings.

But the Irish, with the hapless exile James at their head, were no match for the great military force now landing in the north, commanded in person by William III. of England.

"The country is worth fighting for," said William to his mixed army of English and Dutch as he marched through Ireland for the first time in his life.

He noted the rich greenness of the land, the bays and rivers so admirably fitted for trade. Where were the forests of masts that lay in every harbour of his native Holland? Where the warehouses that should have lined the quay? Could he not give these people the government and religion that had made Holland the wonder of the world?

He marched on till he came to the green banks of the river Boyne. As the glorious beauties of the valley burst upon him he could not suppress his admiration. Here on the neighbouring hill of Dromore was the camp of James II. Here was to be fought one of the most famous battles of the age.

An old story says, that as the exiled king stood looking over the fair country, his crown fell from his head and rolled down the steep green slope till it plunged into the dark still waters below. On the walls of Drogheda, at the mouth of the Boyne, waved the flags of James and Louis XIV., side by side: every soldier, Irish and French, had a white badge in his hat.

William's keen eye took in the whole situation.

"I am glad to see you, gentlemen," he said; "if you escape me now, the fault will be mine."

"Their army is but small," said one of his Dutch officers.

"They may be stronger than they look," answered William, for he knew that many Irish regiments were hidden from view.

The 1st of July dawned. The sun rose bright and cloudless. With drums beating, William and his army advanced to the banks of the Boyne. Each man had bound a green bough in his hat. Ten abreast, the soldiers then plunged into the stream, until the Boyne seemed to be alive with muskets and waving boughs. It was not till they had reached the middle that they realised their danger. Whole regiments of foot and horse, hidden from their sight, now seemed to start out of the very earth. A wild shout rose from the opposite shore, as the Irish and French together rushed to battle. But the great army led by William was too much for them. The Irish foot-soldiers were untrained, badly armed, and unused to action. True, the cavalry stood firm, but their valour was powerless to win the day. At the first shock of reverse James fled to Dublin. He arrived convulsed with rage.

"Madam," he cried to the wife of one of his brave officers—"Madam, your countrymen have run away."

"If they have, sire," answered the Irish lady with ready wit, "your majesty seems to have won the race."

And the old stories say that James never stopped running till he reached the coast, when he took ship for France!


The Children of Odin: A Book of Northern Myths  by Padraic Colum

The Building of the Wall


dropcap image LWAYS there had been war between the Giants and the Gods—between the Giants who would have destroyed the world and the race of men, and the Gods who would have protected the race of men and would have made the world more beautiful.

There are many stories to be told about the Gods, but the first one that should be told to you is the one about the building of their City.

The Gods had made their way up to the top of a high mountain and there they decided to build a great City for themselves that the Giants could never overthrow. The City they would call "Asgard," which means the Place of the Gods. They would build it on a beautiful plain that was on the top of that high mountain. And they wanted to raise round their City the highest and strongest wall that had ever been built.

Now one day when they were beginning to build their halls and their palaces a strange being came to them. Odin, the Father of the Gods, went and spoke to him. "What dost thou want on the Mountain of the Gods?" he asked the Stranger.

"I know what is in the mind of the Gods," the Stranger said. "They would build a City here. I cannot build palaces, but I can build great walls that can never be overthrown. Let me build the wall around your City."

"How long will it take you to build a wall that will go round our City?" said the Father of the Gods.

"A year, O Odin," said the Stranger.

Now Odin knew that if a great wall could be built around it the Gods would not have to spend all their time defending their City, Asgard, from the Giants, and he knew that if Asgard were protected, he himself could go amongst men and teach them and help them. He thought that no payment the Stranger could ask would be too much for the building of that wall.

That day the Stranger came to the Council of the Gods, and he swore that in a year he would have the great wall built. Then Odin made oath that the Gods would give him what he asked in payment if the wall was finished to the last stone in a year from that day.

The Stranger went away and came back on the morrow. It was the first day of Summer when he started work. He brought no one to help him except a great horse.

Now the Gods thought that this horse would do no more than drag blocks of stone for the building of the wall. But the horse did more than this. He set the stones in their places and mortared them together. And day and night and by light and dark the horse worked, and soon a great wall was rising round the palaces that the Gods themselves were building.

"What reward will the Stranger ask for the work he is doing for us?" the Gods asked one another.

Odin went to the Stranger. "We marvel at the work you and your horse are doing for us," he said. "No one can doubt that the great wall of Asgard will be built up by the first day of Summer. What reward do you claim? We would have it ready for you."

The Stranger turned from the work he was doing, leaving the great horse to pile up the blocks of stone. "O Father of the Gods," he said, "O Odin, the reward I shall ask for my work is the Sun and the Moon, and Freya, who watches over the flowers and grasses, for my wife."

Now when Odin heard this he was terribly angered, for the price the Stranger asked for his work was beyond all prices. He went amongst the other Gods who were then building their shining palaces within the great wall and he told them what reward the Stranger had asked. The Gods said, "Without the Sun and the Moon the world will wither away." And the Goddesses said, "Without Freya all will be gloom in Asgard."

They would have let the wall remain unbuilt rather than let the Stranger have the reward he claimed for building it. But one who was in the company of the Gods spoke. He was Loki, a being who only half belonged to the Gods; his father was the Wind Giant. "Let the Stranger build the wall round Asgard," Loki said, "and I will find a way to make him give up the hard bargain he has made with the Gods. Go to him and tell him that the wall must be finished by the first day of Summer, and that if it is not finished to the last stone on that day the price he asks will not be given to him.

The Gods went to the Stranger and they told him that if the last stone was not laid on the wall on the first day of the Summer not Sol or Mani, the Sun and the Moon, nor Freya would be given to him. And now they knew that the Stranger was one of the Giants.

The Giant and his great horse piled up the wall more quickly than before. At night, while the Giant slept, the horse worked on and on, hauling up stones and laying them on the wall with his great forefeet. And day by day the wall around Asgard grew higher and higher.

But the Gods had no joy in seeing that great wall rising higher and higher around their palaces. The Giant and his horse would finish the work by the first day of Summer, and then he would take the Sun and the Moon, Sol and Mani, and Freya away with him.

But Loki was not disturbed. He kept telling the Gods that he would find a way to prevent him from finishing his work, and thus he would make the Giant forfeit the terrible price he had led Odin to promise him.

It was three days to Summer time. All the wall was finished except the gateway. Over the gateway a stone was still to be placed. And the Giant, before he went to sleep, bade his horse haul up a great block of stone so that they might put it above the gateway in the morning, and so finish the work two full days before Summer.

It happened to be a beautiful moonlit night. Svadilfare, the Giant's great horse, was hauling the largest stone he ever hauled when he saw a little mare come galloping toward him. The great horse had never seen so pretty a little mare and he looked at her with surprise.

"Svadilfare, slave," said the little mare to him and went frisking past.

Svadilfare put down the stone he was hauling and called to the little mare. She came back to him. "Why do you call me 'Svadilfare, slave'?" said the great horse.

"Because you have to work night and day for your master," said the little mare. "He keeps you working, working, working, and never lets you enjoy yourself. You dare not leave that stone down and come and play with me."

"Who told you I dare not do it?" said Svadilfare.

"I know you daren't do it," said the little mare, and she kicked up her heels and ran across the moonlit meadow.

Now the truth is that Svadilfare was tired of working day and night. When he saw the little mare go galloping off he became suddenly discontented. He left the stone he was hauling on the ground. He looked round and he saw the little mare looking back at him. He galloped after her.

He did not catch up on the little mare. She went on swiftly before him. On she went over the moonlit meadow, turning and looking back now and again at the great Svadilfare, who came heavily after her. Down the mountainside the mare went, and Svadilfare, who now rejoiced in his liberty and in the freshness of the wind and in the smell of the flowers, still followed her. With the morning's light they came near a cave and the little mare went into it. They went through the cave. Then Svadilfare caught up on the little mare and the two went wandering together, the little mare telling Svadilfare stories of the Dwarfs and the Elves.

They came to a grove and they stayed together in it, the little mare playing so nicely with him that the great horse forgot all about time passing. And while they were in the grove the Giant was going up and down, searching for his great horse.

He had come to the wall in the morning, expecting to put the stone over the gateway and so finish his work. But the stone that was to be lifted up was not near him. He called for Svadilfare, but his great horse did not come. He went to search for him, and he searched all down the mountain-side and he searched as far across the earth as the realm of the Giants. But he did not find Svadilfare.

The Gods saw the first day of Summer come and the gateway of the wall stand unfinished. They said to each other that if it were not finished by the evening they need not give Sol and Mani to the Giant, nor the maiden Freya to be his wife. The hours of the summer day went past and the Giant did not raise the stone over the gateway. In the evening he came before them.

"Your work is not finished," Odin said. "You forced us to a hard bargain and now we need not keep it with you. You shall not be given Sol and Mani nor the maiden Freya."

"Only the wall I have built is so strong I would tear it down," said the Giant. He tried to throw down one of the palaces, but the Gods laid hands on him and thrust him outside the wall he had built. "Go, and trouble Asgard no more," Odin commanded.

Then Loki returned to Asgard. He told the Gods how he had transformed himself into a little mare and had led away Svadilfare, the Giant's great horse. And the Gods sat in their golden palaces behind the great wall and rejoiced that their City was now secure, and that no enemy could ever enter it or overthrow it. But Odin, the Father of the Gods, as he sat upon his throne was sad in his heart, sad that the Gods had got their wall built by a trick; that oaths had been broken, and that a blow had been struck in injustice in Asgard.


George MacDonald

The Wind and the Moon

Said the Wind to the Moon, "I will blow you out,

You stare

In the air

Like a ghost in a chair,

Always looking what I am about—

I hate to be watched; I'll blow you out."

The Wind blew hard, and out went the Moon.

So, deep

On a heap

Of clouds to sleep,

Down lay the Wind, and slumbered soon,

Muttering low, "I've done for that Moon."

He turned in his bed; she was there again!

On high

In the sky,

With her one ghost eye,

The Moon shone white and alive and plain.

Said the Wind, "I will blow you out again."

The Wind blew hard, and the Moon grew dim.

"With my sledge,

And my wedge,

I have knocked off her edge!

If only I blow right fierce and grim,

The creature will soon be dimmer than dim."

He blew and he blew, and she thinned to a thread.

"One puff

More's enough

To blow her to snuff!

One good puff more where the last was bred,

And glimmer, glimmer, glum will go the thread."

He blew a great blast, and the thread was gone

In the air


Was a moonbeam bare;

Far off and harmless the shy stars shone—

Sure and certain the Moon was gone!

The Wind he took to his revels once more;

On down,

In town,

Like a merry-mad clown,

He leaped and hallooed with whistle and roar—

"What's that?" The glimmering thread once more!

He flew in a rage—he danced and blew;

But in vain

Was the pain

Of his bursting brain;

For still the broader the Moon-scrap grew,

The broader he swelled his big cheeks and blew.

Slowly she grew—till she filled the night,

And shone

On her throne

In the sky alone,

A matchless, wonderful silvery light,

Radiant and lovely, the Queen of the Night.

Said the Wind: "What a marvel of power am I!

With my breath,

Good faith!

I blew her to death—

First blew her away right out of the sky—

Then blew her in; what strength have I!"

But the Moon she knew nothing about the affair;

For, high

In the sky,

With her one white eye,

Motionless, miles above the air,

She had never heard the great Wind blare.


  WEEK 2  


Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—Upon the Rock  by Lisa M. Ripperton

The Valiant Little Tailor

O NE summer's morning a little tailor was sitting on his table by the window; he was in good spirits, and sewed with all his might. Then came a peasant woman down the street crying, "Good jams, cheap! Good jams, cheap!" This rang pleasantly in the tailor's ears; he stretched his delicate head out of the window, and called, "Come up here, dear woman; here you will get rid of your goods."

The woman came up the three steps to the tailor with her heavy basket, and he made her unpack the whole of the pots for him. He inspected all of them, lifted them up, put his nose to them, and at length said, "The jam seems to me to be good, so weigh me out four ounces, dear woman, and if it is a quarter of a pound that is of no consequence." The woman who had hoped to find a good sale, gave him what he desired, but went away quite angry and grumbling.

"Now, God bless the jam to my use," cried the little tailor, "and give me health and strength;" so he brought the bread out of the cupboard, cut himself a piece right across the loaf and spread the jam over it. "This won't taste bitter," said he, "but I will just finish the jacket before I take a bite." He laid the bread near him, sewed on, and in his joy, made bigger and bigger stitches. In the meantime the smell of the sweet jam ascended so to the wall, where the flies were sitting in great numbers, that they were attracted and descended on it in hosts.

"Hola! who invited you?" said the little tailor, and drove the unbidden guests away. The flies, however, who understood no German, would not be turned away, but came back again in ever-increasing companies. The little tailor at last lost all patience, and got a bit of cloth from the hole under his work-table, and saying, "Wait, and I will give it to you," struck it mercilessly on them. When he drew it away and counted, there lay before him no fewer than seven, dead and with legs stretched out.


"Art thou a fellow of that sort?" said he, and could not help admiring his own bravery. "The whole town shall know of this!" And the little tailor hastened to cut himself a girdle, stitched it, and embroidered on it in large letters, "Seven at one stroke!"  "What, the town!" he continued, "The whole world shall hear of it!" and his heart wagged with joy like a lamb's tail.


The tailor put on the girdle, and resolved to go forth into the world, because he thought his workshop was too small for his valour. Before he went away, he sought about in the house to see if there was anything which he could take with him; however, he found nothing but an old cheese, and that he put in his pocket. In front of the door he observed a bird which had caught itself in the thicket. It had to go into his pocket with the cheese. Now he took to the road boldly, and as he was light and nimble, he felt no fatigue.

The road led him up a mountain, and when he had reached the highest point of it, there sat a powerful giant looking about him quite comfortably. The little tailor went bravely up, spoke to him, and said, "Good day, comrade, so thou art sitting there overlooking the wide-spread world! I am just on my way thither, and want to try my luck. Hast thou any inclination to go with me?"

The giant looked contemptuously at the tailor, and said, "Thou ragamuffin! Thou miserable creature!"

"Oh, indeed?" answered the little tailor, and unbuttoned his coat, and showed the giant the girdle, "There mayst thou read what kind of a man I am!"


The giant read, "Seven at one stroke," and thought that they had been men whom the tailor had killed, and began to feel a little respect for the tiny fellow. Nevertheless, he wished to try him first, and took a stone in his hand and squeezed it together so that water dropped out of it.

"Do that likewise," said the giant, "if thou hast strength?"

"Is that all?" said the tailor, "that is child's play with us!" and put his hand into his pocket, brought out the soft cheese, and pressed it until the liquid ran out of it.

"Faith," said he, "that was a little better, wasn't it?"

The giant did not know what to say, and could not believe it of the little man. Then the giant picked up a stone and threw it so high that the eye could scarcely follow it.

"Now, little mite of a man, do that likewise."

"Well thrown," said the tailor, "but after all the stone came down to earth again; I will throw you one which shall never come back at all." And he put his hand into his pocket, took out the bird, and threw it into the air. The bird, delighted with its liberty, rose, flew away and did not come back.

"How does that shot please you, comrade?" asked the tailor.

"Thou canst certainly throw," said the giant, "but now we will see if thou art able to carry anything properly." He took the little tailor to a mighty oak tree which lay there felled on the ground, and said, "If thou art strong enough, help me to carry the tree out of the forest."

"Readily," answered the little man; "take thou the trunk on thy shoulders, and I will raise up the branches and twigs; after all, they are the heaviest." The giant took the trunk on his shoulder, but the tailor seated himself on a branch, and the giant who could not look round, had to carry away the whole tree, and the little tailor into the bargain: he behind, was quite merry and happy, and whistled the song, "Three tailors rode forth from the gate," as if carrying the tree were child's play. The giant, after he had dragged the heavy burden part of the way, could go no further, and cried, "Hark you, I shall have to let the tree fall!"

The tailor sprang nimbly down, seized the tree with both arms as if he had been carrying it, and said to the giant, "Thou art such a great fellow, and yet canst not even carry the tree!"

They went on together, and as they passed a cherry-tree, the giant laid hold of the top of the tree where the ripest fruit was hanging, bent it down, gave it into the tailor's hand, and bade him eat. But the little tailor was much too weak to hold the tree, and when the giant let it go, it sprang back again, and the tailor was hurried into the air with it.


When he had fallen down again without injury, the giant said, "What is this? Hast thou not strength enough to hold the weak twig?"

"There is no lack of strength," answered the little tailor. "Dost thou think that could be anything to a man who has struck down seven at one blow? I leapt over the tree because the huntsmen are shooting down there in the thicket. Jump as I did, if thou canst do it." The giant made the attempt, but could not get over the tree, and remained hanging in the branches, so that in this also the tailor kept the upper hand.

The giant said, "If thou art such a valiant fellow, come with me into our cavern and spend the night with us." The little tailor was willing, and followed him. When they went into the cave, other giants were sitting there by the fire, and each of them had a roasted sheep in his hand and was eating it. The little tailor looked round and thought, "It is much more spacious here than in my workshop." The giant showed him a bed, and said he was to lie down in it and sleep. The bed, however, was too big for the little tailor; he did not lie down in it, but crept into a corner. When it was midnight, and the giant thought that the little tailor was lying in a sound sleep, he got up, took a great iron bar, cut through the bed with one blow, and thought he had given the grasshopper his finishing stroke.

With the earliest dawn the giants went into the forest, and had quite forgotten the little tailor, when all at once he walked up to them quite merrily and boldly. The giants were terrified, they were afraid that he would strike them all dead, and ran away in a great hurry.

The little tailor went onwards, always following his own pointed nose. After he had walked for a long time, he came to the courtyard of a royal palace, and as he felt weary, he lay down on the grass and fell asleep. Whilst he lay there, the people came and inspected him on all sides, and read on his girdle, "Seven at one stroke."

"Ah," said they, "What does the great warrior here in the midst of peace? He must be a mighty lord." They went and announced him to the King, and gave it as their opinion that if war should break out, this would be a weighty and useful man who ought on no account to be allowed to depart. The counsel pleased the King, and he sent one of his courtiers to the little tailor to offer him military service when he awoke.

The ambassador remained standing by the sleeper, waited until he stretched his limbs and opened his eyes, and then conveyed to him this proposal.

"For this very reason have I come here," the tailor replied, "I am ready to enter the King's service."

He was therefore honorably received and a special dwelling was assigned him.

The soldiers, however, were set against the little tailor, and wished him a thousand miles away. "What is to be the end of this?" they said amongst themselves. "If we quarrel with him, and he strikes about him, seven of us will fall at every blow; not one of us can stand against him."

They came therefore to a decision, betook themselves in a body to the King, and begged for their dismissal. "We are not prepared," said they, "to stay with a man who kills seven at one stroke." The King was sorry that for the sake of one he should lose all his faithful servants, wished that he had never set eyes on the tailor, and would willingly have been rid of him again. But he did not venture to give him his dismissal, for he dreaded lest he should strike him and all his people dead, and place himself on the royal throne. He thought about it for a long time, and at last found good counsel.

He sent to the little tailor and caused him to be informed that as he was such a great warrior, he had one request to make to him. In a forest of his country lived two giants who caused great mischief with their robbing, murdering, ravaging, and burning, and no one could approach them without putting himself in danger of death. If the tailor conquered and killed these two giants, he would give him his only daughter to wife, and half of his kingdom as a dowry, likewise one hundred horsemen should go with him to assist him.

"That would indeed be a fine thing for a man like me!" thought the little tailor. "One is not offered a beautiful princess and half a kingdom every day of one's life!"  "Oh, yes," he replied, "I will soon subdue the giants, and do not require the help of the hundred horsemen to do it; he who can hit seven with one blow has no need to be afraid of two."

The little tailor went forth, and the hundred horsemen followed him. When he came to the outskirts of the forest, he said to his followers, "Just stay waiting here, I alone will soon finish off the giants."


Then he bounded into the forest and looked about right and left. After a while he perceived both giants. They lay sleeping under a tree, and snored so that the branches waved up and down. The little tailor, not idle, gathered two pocketsful of stones, and with these climbed up the tree. When he was half-way up, he slipped down by a branch, until he sat just above the sleepers, and then let one stone after another fall on the breast of one of the giants.

For a long time the giant felt nothing, but at last he awoke, pushed his comrade, and said, "Why art thou knocking me?"

"Thou must be dreaming," said the other, "I am not knocking thee."

They laid themselves down to sleep again, and then the tailor threw a stone down on the second.

"What is the meaning of this?" cried the other. "Why art thou pelting me?"

"I am not pelting thee," answered the first, growling.

They disputed about it for a time, but as they were weary they let the matter rest, and their eyes closed once more.

The little tailor began his game again, picked out the biggest stone, and threw it with all his might on the breast of the first giant.

"That is too bad!" cried he, and sprang up like a madman, and pushed his companion against the tree until it shook. The other paid him back in the same coin, and they got into such a rage that they tore up trees and belabored each other so long, that at last they both fell down dead on the ground at the same time.

Then the little tailor leapt down. "It is a lucky thing," said he, "that they did not tear up the tree on which I was sitting, or I should have had to spring on to another like a squirrel; but we tailors are nimble."

He drew out his sword and gave each of them a couple of thrusts in the breast, and then went out to the horsemen and said, "The work is done; I have given both of them their finishing stroke, but it was hard work! They tore up trees in their sore need, and defended themselves with them, but all that is to no purpose when a man like myself comes, who can kill seven at one blow."

"But are you not wounded?" asked the horsemen.

"You need not concern yourself about that," answered the tailor, "They have not bent one hair of mine."

The horsemen would not believe him, and rode into the forest; there they found the giants swimming in their blood, and all round about lay the torn-up trees.

The little tailor demanded of the King the promised reward; he, however, repented of his promise, and again bethought himself how he could get rid of the hero.

"Before thou receivest my daughter, and the half of my kingdom," said he to him, "thou must perform one more heroic deed. In the forest roams a unicorn which does great harm, and thou must catch it first."

"I fear one unicorn still less than two giants. Seven at one blow, is my kind of affair."

He took a rope and an axe with him, went forth into the forest, and again bade those who were sent with him to wait outside. He had not to seek long. The unicorn soon came towards him, and rushed directly on the tailor, as if it would spit him on his horn without more ceremony.

"Softly, softly; it can't be done as quickly as that," said he, and stood still and waited until the animal was quite close, and then sprang nimbly behind the tree. The unicorn ran against the tree with all its strength, and struck its horn so fast in the trunk that it had not strength enough to draw it out again, and thus it was caught.


"Now, I have got the bird," said the tailor, and came out from behind the tree and put the rope round its neck, and then with his axe he hewed the horn out of the tree, and when all was ready he led the beast away and took it to the King.

The King still would not give him the promised reward, and made a third demand. Before the wedding the tailor was to catch him a wild boar that made great havoc in the forest, and the huntsmen should give him their help.

"Willingly," said the tailor, "that is child's play!"

He did not take the huntsmen with him into the forest, and they were well pleased that he did not, for the wild boar had several times received them in such a manner that they had no inclination to lie in wait for him.

When the boar perceived the tailor, it ran on him with foaming mouth and whetted tusks, and was about to throw him to the ground, but the active hero sprang into a chapel which was near, and up to the window at once, and in one bound out again. The boar ran in after him, but the tailor ran round outside and shut the door behind it, and then the raging beast, which was much too heavy and awkward to leap out of the window, was caught. The little tailor called the huntsmen thither that they might see the prisoner with their own eyes. The hero, however went to the King, who was now, whether he liked it or not, obliged to keep his promise, and gave him his daughter and the half of his kingdom. Had he known that it was no warlike hero, but a little tailor who was standing before him, it would have gone to his heart still more than it did.

The wedding was held with great magnificence and small joy, and out of a tailor a king was made.

After some time the young Queen heard her husband say in his dreams at night, "Boy, make me the doublet, and patch the pantaloons, or else I will rap the yard-measure over thine ears." Then she discovered in what state of life the young lord had been born, and next morning complained of her wrongs to her father, and begged him to help her to get rid of her husband, who was nothing else but a tailor.

The King comforted her and said, "Leave thy bed-room door open this night, and my servants shall stand outside, and when he has fallen asleep shall go in, bind him, and take him on board a ship which shall carry him into the wide world."

The woman was satisfied with this; but the King's armour-bearer, who had heard all, was friendly with the young lord, and informed him of the whole plot.

"I'll put a screw into that business," said the little tailor.

At night he went to bed with his wife at the usual time, and when she thought that he had fallen asleep, she got up, opened the door, and then lay down again. The little tailor, who was only pretending to be asleep, began to cry out in a clear voice, "Boy, make me the doublet and patch me the pantaloons, or I will rap the yard-measure over thine ears. I smote seven at one blow. I killed two giants, I brought away one unicorn and caught a wild boar, and am I to fear those who are standing outside the room."

When these men heard the tailor speaking thus, they were overcome by a great dread, and ran as if the wild huntsman were behind them, and none of them would venture anything further against him.

So the little tailor was a king and remained one, to the end of his life.



Insect Life  by Arabella B. Buckley

Parts of a Caterpillar

I N the last lesson we found the full-grown insects very easily. But it is often more difficult to know some of them when they are young. Grasshoppers, crickets, and plant-lice, when they come out of the egg, are very much the same as when they are grown up, except that they have no wings. But the daddy-long-legs begins its life as a grub underground. The lady-bird when young is a kind of caterpillar and runs over the plants eating plant-lice. And beetles are grubs with six small legs before they grow into perfect beetles with wings.

The caterpillars of Moths and Butterflies are easy to find, so we will look at one in this lesson. There is hardly any time in the summer that you cannot find a caterpillar. Those of the Orange-tipped Butterfly come out first in April. In May the Cabbage Butterfly lays her eggs, and soon the caterpillars are eating the young cabbage leaves. A little later you may find among the nettles the black caterpillars with white spots (2, p. 10) which will turn in June into the Peacock Butterfly; or the dark green caterpillars of the Red Admiral. These are hidden in a bunch of leaves generally tied up with caterpillar silk.

If you do not find either of these you cannot miss the heaps of little black caterpillars striped with yellow which feed under the leaves of nettles, and turn into the small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. These caterpillars are very useful in killing nettles, so the butterfly is one you should always be glad to see. Then towards the autumn the caterpillars of the big Hawk-moths do a great deal of mischief. If you go out in the evening or early morning you may find the caterpillar of the Spurge Hawk-moth feeding on the green spurge in the hedges. It is a fine creature three inches long, with three bright lines on its back, and yellow spots on each ring.

But the most common one, which I have often found, is the caterpillar of the Privet Hawk-moth (see  coloured picture, p. 20), which feeds in the evening on the privet hedge or the lilac bushes. It is from three to four inches long, and is a bright apple-green, with seven sloping violet stripes on its sides, and a horn at the end of its body. Its head is green, edged with black, and the breathing holes on its sides are circled with bright orange.


Caterpillar's Head

It destroys the hedges terribly, for it is very hungry and wants to store up food so that it may grow into a moth. Though its body is soft, its head is hard and horny, and as its mouth has nothing to do in breathing, or making any noise, it can be used all the time for eating. It is made of a great many pieces, but the parts you can see well are the large upper lip (u l) and the two broad strong outer jaws (j) which move to and fro sideways as it gnaws the leaf. As soon as a piece is cut off the caterpillar tucks it into his inner jaws (i j), where it is chewed and swallowed. Under the jaws is the flat lower lip (l l), through which passes a little tube. Look well at this tube (s). It is the place from which comes the silk, which he uses to spin his cocoon, in which he sleeps while his butterfly body is growing.

You remember we read in Book I. that the spider spins her web out of silk which comes from six little pockets under her body. But a caterpillar or a silkworm brings its silk out of its mouth.

Now look at the legs. There are three pairs, one on each ring of the thorax. They have joints in them and claws at the end (2, p. 15). These are true legs, and they are hard and horny like the head. When the caterpillar turns into a moth these six legs will remain. But it has also some cushion feet (see  p. 20), on the other rings of its body, which it uses to hold fast to the twigs. These are not true legs, but only fleshy cushions (1, p. 15) with a ring of hooks under them, and they will disappear with the caterpillar's body when the moth grows up. There are generally four pairs of cushion feet behind the true legs, and two pairs at the end of the body, but some caterpillars do not have so many. Do you know those called "Loopers," which bend their body into an arch or loop? You may often find them on the currant bushes, where they do a great deal of mischief. They have only six true legs and four cushion feet at the end of their body, and they walk in a curious fashion. They hold firmly to the twig by their front legs, and then draw up their cushion feet till their body makes a loop in the air. Then they let go with their front legs and lift up their head like an elephant raises his trunk, and stretch forward further up the twig.

As a caterpillar is always eating, his skin becomes so full that there comes a time when he cannot put in any more food. Then he remains quiet for a few hours, and swells out his rings. His skin splits and he creeps out, with a new soft skin ready underneath. This will stretch, and very soon he is eating away as merrily as ever.


1. Cushion Feet of Caterpillar 2. Jointed Legs

He does this about five times in his caterpillar life, and then he stops eating and remains without moving for some days. His colour fades, and when he splits his skin and shuffles it off, all the parts of the butterfly or moth are to be seen underneath, soft and unfinished. Soon a kind of gum oozes out over them. This hardens and keeps the tender body safe from harm while it is growing.

Now he is called a chrysalis,  or sometimes a pupa  or doll; and, indeed, he looks like a crumpled doll as you see his legs bent together and his head folded down over them under the hard gum. The pupa of a butterfly is generally broad at the top and narrow at the bottom, and it has ridges and prickles on it (3, Plate, p. 10). But the pupas of moths are shaped more like an egg, and are smooth (3, Plate, p. 20). Moths generally wrap their pupa in a silk bag or cocoon, but butterflies leave theirs naked, and fasten it to a stem or a blade of grass with a silken cord (5, Plate, p. 10).

The caterpillar of the Hawk-moth works its way down into the ground and lies in a hole which it lines with silk. I had one in a large flower-pot once for many months. After about seven months, or sometimes much longer, the pupa wriggles up to the top of the ground, and then breaks through its cover and comes out as a moth.

Bring in some caterpillars, each with the plant on which you find it. Keep them fed and watch their changes.


Edward Lear

A Was Once an Apple Pie

A was once an apple-pie,





Nice insidy,


B was once a little bear,





Taky cary,

Little bear!

C was once a little cake,





Taky caky,

Little cake!

D was once a little doll,





Nursy dolly,

Little doll!

E was once a little eel,





Twirly, tweely,

Little eel!

F was once a little fish,





In a dishy,

Little fish!

G was once a little goose,






Little goose!

H was once a little hen,






Little hen?

I was once a bottle of ink





Blacky minky,

Bottle of ink!

J was once a jar of jam,





Sweety, swammy,

Jar of jam!

K was once a little kite,





Out of sighty,

Little kite!

L was once a little lark,





In the parky,

Little lark!

M was once a little mouse,





In the housy,

Little mouse!

N was once a little needle,





Wisky, wheedly,

Little needle!

O was once a little owl,





Browny fowly,

Little owl!

P was once a little pump,





Dumpy, thumpy,

Little pump!

Q was once a little quail,






Little quail!

R was once a little rose,





Blows-y, grows-y,

Little rose!

S was once a little shrimp,





Jumpy, jimpy,

Little shrimp!

Twas once a little thrush,





Flitty, flushy,

Little thrush!

U was once a little urn,





Bubbly, burny,

Little urn!

V was once a little vine,






Little vine!

Wwas once a whale,






Mighty whale!

X was once a great king Xerxes,





Linxy, lurxy,

Great King Xerxes!

Y was once a little yew,





Growdy, grewdy,

Little yew!

Z was once a piece of zinc,





Tinkly minky,

Piece of zinc!


  WEEK 2  


Hurlbut's Story of the Bible  by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

The Angel by the Altar

Luke i: 1 to 80.

dropcap image T the time when the story of the New Testament began, the land of Israel, called also the land of Judea, was ruled by a king named Herod. He was the first of several Herods, who at different times ruled either the whole of the land, or parts of it. But Herod was not the highest ruler. Many years before this time, the Romans, who came from the city of Rome in Italy, had won all the land around the Great Sea, the sea which we call the Mediterranean; and above King Herod of Judea was the great king at Rome, who was called "Emperor," ruling over all the lands, and over the land of Judea among them. So Herod, though king of Judea, obeyed his over-lord, the emperor at Rome. At the time when this story began, the emperor at Rome was named Augustus Caesar.

At this time the land where the Jews lived was full of people. Jerusalem was its largest city, and in Jerusalem was standing the Temple of the Lord, which King Herod had begun to build anew, taking the place of the old Temple built in the time of Zerubbabel (see Story 105), which had long needed repair. There were also many other large cities besides Jerusalem. In the south was Hebron, among the mountains; on the shore of the Great Sea were Gaza and Joppa and Caesarea. In the middle of the land were Shechem and Samaria; and in the north were Nazareth and Cana; down by the shore of the Sea of Galilee were Tiberias, and Capernaum, and Bethsaida. Far up in the north, at the foot of snowy Mount Hebron, was another Caesarea; but so that it might not be confused with Caesarea upon the sea-coast, this city was called Caesarea-philippi, or "Philip's Caesarea," from the name of one of Herod's sons.

One day, an old priest named Zacharias was leading the service of worship in the Temple. He was standing in front of the golden altar of incense, in the Holy Place, and was holding in his hand a censer or cup full of burning coals and incense; while all the people were worshipping in the court of the Temple, outside the court of the priests, where the great altar of burnt-offering stood (see Stories 27 and 28).

Suddenly Zacharias saw an angel from the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. He felt a great fear when he saw this strange being, with shining face; but the angel said to him:

"Do not be afraid, Zacharias; for I have come from the Lord to bring you good news. Your wife Elizabeth shall have a son, and you shall name him John. You shall be made glad, for your son John shall bring joy and gladness to many. He shall be great in the sight of the Lord; and he shall never taste wine nor strong drink as long as he lives; but he shall be filled with God's Holy Spirit. He shall lead many of the people of Israel to the Lord, for he shall go before the Lord in the power of Elijah the prophet, as was promised by Malachi, the last of the old prophets (see the last Story). He shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and those who are disobeying the Lord to do his will."

As Zacharias heard these words, he was filled with wonder, and could hardly believe them true. He was now an old man, and his wife Elizabeth was also old; so that they could not expect to have a child. He said to the angel:

"How shall I know that your words are true, for I am an old man and my wife is old?"

"I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God," said the angel, "and I was sent from the Lord to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. But because you did not believe my words you shall become dumb, and shall not be able to speak until this which I have said comes to pass."

All this time, the people outside in the court, were wondering why the priest stayed so long in the Temple. When at last he came out, they found that he could not speak a word; but made signs to them, to tell them that he had seen a vision in the Temple.

After the days of his service were over, Zacharias went to his own home, which was near Hebron, a city of the priests, among the mountains in the south of Judea. When his wife Elizabeth found that God was soon to give her a child, she was very happy and praised the Lord. About six months after Zacharias saw the vision in the Temple, the same angel Gabriel was sent from the Lord to a city in the part of the land called Galilee, which was in the north. The city to which the angel was sent was Nazareth. There the angel found a young girl named Mary, who was a cousin to Elizabeth. Mary was soon to be married to a good man who had sprung from the line of King David, though he was not himself a king, or a rich man. He was a carpenter or wood-worker, living in Nazareth, and his name was Joseph. The angel came into the room where Mary was, and said to her:

"Hail, woman favored by the Lord; the Lord is with you!"

Mary was surprised at the angel's words, and wondered what they could mean. Then the angel spoke again, and said:

"Do not be afraid, Mary. The Lord has given to you his favor and has chosen you to be the mother of a son whose name shall be Jesus, which means "salvation," because he shall save his people from their sins. He shall be great; and shall be called the Son of God; and the Lord shall give to him the throne of his father David. He shall be a king; and shall reign over the people of God forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end."

But Mary could not see how all this was to come to pass. And the angel said to her:

"The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High God shall be over you; and the holy child which you shall have shall be called the Son of God."

Then the angel told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was soon to have a child through the power of the Lord. And when Mary heard all this she said, "I am the servant of the Lord, to do his will. Let it be to me as you have said."


The angel speaking to Mary.

When the angel had given his message and had gone away, Mary rose up in haste, and made a journey to the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth, eighty miles away in the south country. When Elizabeth saw Mary, she was filled with the spirit of the Lord, and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed among men shall be your son! And why is it that the mother of my Lord comes to visit me? Blessed is the woman who believed that the promise of the Lord to her shall be made true!"


Elizabeth greets Mary.

Then Mary was filled with the Spirit of the Lord, and broke out into a song of praise. She stayed with Elizabeth for nearly three months, and then went again to her own home at Nazareth.

As the angel had said, to the aged woman Elizabeth was given a son. They were going to name him Zacharias, after his father. But his mother said, "No, his name shall be John."

"Why," they said, "none of your family have ever been named John."

They asked his father Zacharias, by signs, what name he wished to be given to the child. He asked for something to write upon; and when they brought it, he wrote, "His name is John."

Then all at once the power to hear and to speak came back to Zacharias. He spoke, praising and blessing God; and he sang a song of thanks to God, in which he said:

"You, O child, shall be called a prophet of the Most High; to go before the Lord, and to make ready his ways."

When John was growing up, they sent him out into the desert on the south of the land and there he stayed until the time come for him to preach to the people, for this child became the prophet John the Baptist.


The well of the Virgin Mary, at Nazareth.


Five Children and It  by Edith Nesbit

Golden Guineas

A NTHEA woke in the morning from a very real sort of dream, in which she was walking in the Zoological Gardens on a pouring wet day without an umbrella. The animals seemed desperately unhappy because of the rain, and were all growling gloomily. When she awoke, both the growling and the rain went on just the same. The growling was the heavy regular breathing of her sister Jane, who had a slight cold and was still asleep. The rain fell in slow drops on to Anthea's face from the wet corner of a bath-towel out of which her brother Robert was gently squeezing the water, to wake her up, as he now explained.


The rain fell in slow drops on to Anthea's face.

"Oh, drop it!" she said rather crossly; so he did, for he was not a brutal brother, though very ingenious in apple-pie beds, booby-traps, original methods of awakening sleeping relatives, and the other little accomplishments which make home happy.

"I had such a funny dream," Anthea began.

"So did I," said Jane, wakening suddenly and without warning. "I dreamed we found a Sand-fairy in the gravel-pits, and it said it was a Sammyadd, and we might have a new wish every day, and"——

"But that's what I  dreamed," said Robert; "I was just going to tell you,—and we had the first wish directly it said so. And I dreamed you girls were donkeys enough to ask for us all to be beautiful as day, and we jolly well were, and it was perfectly beastly."

"But can  different people all dream the same thing?" said Anthea, sitting up in bed, "because I dreamed all that as well as about the Zoo and the rain; and Baby didn't know us in my dream, and the servants shut us out of the house because the radiantness of our beauty was such a complete disguise, and"——

The voice of the eldest brother sounded from across the landing.

"Come on, Robert," it said, "you'll be late for breakfast again—unless you mean to shirk your bath as you did on Tuesday."

"I say, come here a second," Robert replied; "I didn't shirk it; I had it after brekker in father's dressing-room because ours was emptied away."

Cyril appeared in the doorway, partially clothed.

"Look here," said Anthea, "we've all had such an odd dream. We've all dreamed we found a Sand-fairy."

Her voice died away before Cyril's contemptuous glance.

"Dream?" he said; "you little sillies, it's true.  I tell you it all happened. That's why I'm so keen on being down early. We'll go up there directly after brekker, and have another wish. Only we'll make up our minds, solid, before we go, what it is we do want, and no one must ask for anything unless the others agree first. No more peerless beauties for this child, thank you. Not if I know it!"

The other three dressed, with their mouths open. If all that dream about the Sand-fairy was real, this real dressing seemed very like a dream, the girls thought. Jane felt that Cyril was right, but Anthea was not sure, till after they had seen Martha and heard her full and plain reminders about their naughty conduct the day before. Then Anthea was sure.

"Because," said she, "servants never dream anything but the things in the Dream-book, like snakes and oysters and going to a wedding—that means a funeral, and snakes are a false female friend, and oysters are babies."

"Talking of babies," said Cyril, "where's the Lamb?"

"Martha's going to take him to Rochester to see her cousins. Mother said she might. She's dressing him now," said Jane, "in his very best coat and hat. Bread-and-butter, please."

"She seems to like taking him too," said Robert in a tone of wonder.

"Servants do  like taking babies to see their relations," Cyril said; "I've noticed it before—especially in their best clothes."

"I expect they pretend they're their own babies, and that they're not servants at all, but married to noble dukes of high degree, and they say the babies are the little dukes and duchesses," Jane suggested dreamily, taking more marmalade. "I expect that's what Martha'll say to her cousin. She'll enjoy herself most frightfully."

"She won't enjoy herself most frightfully carrying our infant duke to Rochester," said Robert; "not if she's anything like me—she won't."

"Fancy walking to Rochester with the Lamb on your back!" said Cyril in full agreement.

"She's gone by the carrier's cart," said Jane. "Let's see them off, then we shall have done a polite and kindly act, and we shall be quite sure we've got rid of them for the day."

So they did.

Martha wore her Sunday dress of two shades of purple, so tight in the chest that it made her stoop, and her blue hat with the pink cornflowers and white ribbon. She had a yellow-lace collar with a green bow. And the Lamb had indeed his very best cream-colored silk coat and hat. It was a smart party that the carrier's cart picked up at the Cross Roads. When its white tilt and red wheels had slowly vanished in a swirl of chalk-dust—

"And now for the Sammyadd!" said Cyril, and off they went.

As they went they decided on the wish they would ask for. Although they were all in a great hurry they did not try to climb down the sides of the gravel-pit, but went round by the safe lower road, as if they had been carts.

They had made a ring of stones round the place where the Sand-fairy had disappeared, so they easily found the spot. The sun was burning and bright, and the sky was deep blue—without a cloud. The sand was very hot to touch.

"Oh—suppose it was only a dream, after all," Robert said as the boys uncovered their spades from the sand-heap where they had buried them and began to dig.

"Suppose you were a sensible chap," said Cyril; "one's quite as likely as the other!"

"Suppose you kept a civil tongue in your head," Robert snapped.

"Suppose we girls take a turn," said Jane, laughing. "You boys seem to be getting very warm."

"Suppose you don't come putting your silly oar in," said Robert, who was now warm indeed.

"We won't," said Anthea quickly. "Robert dear, don't be so grumpy—we won't say a word, you shall be the one to speak to the Fairy and tell him what we've decided to wish for. You'll say it much better than we shall."

"Suppose you drop being a little humbug," said Robert, but not crossly. "Look out—dig with your hands, now!"

So they did, and presently uncovered the spider-shaped brown hairy body, long arms and legs, bat's ears and snail's eyes of the Sand-fairy himself. Everyone drew a deep breath of satisfaction, for now of course it couldn't have been a dream.

The Psammead sat up and shook the sand out of its fur.

"How's your left whisker this morning?" said Anthea politely.

"Nothing to boast of," said it; "it had rather a restless night. But thank you for asking."

"I say," said Robert, "do you feel up to giving wishes to-day, because we very much want an extra besides the regular one? The extra's a very little one," he added reassuringly.

"Humph!" said the Sand-fairy. (If you read this story aloud, please pronounce "humph" exactly as it is spelt, for that is how he said it.) "Humph! Do you know, until I heard you being disagreeable to each other just over my head, and so loud too, I really quite thought I had dreamed you all. I do have very odd dreams sometimes."

"Do you?" Jane hurried to say, so as to get away from the subject of disagreeableness. "I wish," she added politely, "you'd tell us about your dreams—they must be awfully interesting"—

"Is that the day's wish?" said the Sand-fairy, yawning.

Cyril muttered something about "just like a girl," and the rest stood silent. If they said "Yes," then good-bye to the other wishes they had decided to ask for. If they said "No," it would be very rude, and they had all been taught manners, and had learned a little too, which is not at all the same thing. A sigh of relief broke from all lips when the Sand-fairy said—

"If I do, I shan't have strength to give you a second wish; not even good tempers, or common-sense, or manners, or little things like that."

"We don't want you to put yourself out at all about these  things, we can manage them quite well ourselves," said Cyril eagerly; while the others looked guiltily at each other, and wished the Fairy would not keep all on about good tempers, but give them one good scolding if it wanted to, and then have done with it.

"Well," said the Psammead, putting out his long snail's eyes so suddenly that one of them nearly went into the round boy's eye of Robert, "let's have the little wish first."

"We don't want the servants to notice the gifts you give us."

"Are kind enough to give us," said Anthea in a whisper.

"Are kind enough to give us, I mean," said Robert.

The Fairy swelled himself out a bit, let his breath go, and said—

"I've done that  for you—it was quite easy. People don't notice things much, anyway. What's the next wish?"

"We want," said Robert slowly, "to be rich beyond the dreams of something or other."

"Avarice," said Jane.

"So it is," said the Fairy unexpectedly. "But it won't do you much good, that's one comfort," it muttered to itself. "Come—I can't go beyond dreams, you know! How much do you want, and will you have it in gold or notes?"

"Gold, please—and millions of it"—

"This gravel-pit full be enough?" said the Fairy in an off-hand manner.

"Oh yes"—

"Then go out before I begin, or you'll be buried alive in it."

It made its skinny arms so long, and waved them so frighteningly, that the children ran as hard as they could towards the road by which carts used to come to the gravel-pits. Only Anthea had presence of mind enough to shout a timid "Good-morning, I hope your whisker will be better to-morrow," as she ran.

On the road they turned and looked back, and they had to shut their eyes, and open them very slowly, a little bit at a time, because the sight was too dazzling for their eyes to be able to bear. It was something like trying to look at the sun at high noon on Midsummer Day. For the whole of the sand-pit was full, right up to the very top, with new shining gold pieces, and all the little bank-martins' little front doors were covered out of sight. Where the road for carts wound into the gravel-pit the gold lay in heaps like stones lie by the roadside, and a great bank of shining gold shelved down from where it lay flat and smooth between the tall sides of the gravel-pit. And all the gleaming heaps was minted gold. And on the sides and edges of these countless coins the mid-day sun shone and sparkled, and glowed and gleamed till the quarry looked like the mouth of a smelting furnace, or one of the fairy halls that you see sometimes in the sky at sunset.

The children stood with their mouths open, and no one said a word.

At last Robert stooped and picked up one of the loose coins from the edge of the heap by the cart-road, and looked at it. He looked on both sides. Then he said in a low voice, quite different to his own, "It's not sovereigns."

"It's gold, anyway," said Cyril. And now they all began to talk at once. They all picked up the golden treasure by handfuls and let it run through their fingers like water, and the chink it made as it fell was wonderful music. At first they quite forgot to think of spending the money, it was so nice to play with. Jane sat down between two heaps of the gold, and Robert began to bury her, as you bury your father in sand when you are at the seaside and he has gone to sleep on the beach with his newspaper over his face. But Jane was not half buried before she cried out, "Oh stop, it's too heavy! It hurts!"

Robert said, "Bosh!" and went on.

"Let me out, I tell you," cried Jane, and was taken out, very white, and trembling a little.

"You've no idea what it's like," said she; "it's like stones on you—or like chains."

"Look here," Cyril said, "if this is to do us any good, it's no good our staying gasping at it like this. Let's fill our pockets and go and buy things. Don't you forget, it won't last after sunset. I wish we'd asked the Sammyadd why things don't turn to stone. Perhaps this will. I'll tell you what, there's a pony and cart in the village."

"Do you want to buy that?" asked Jane.

"No, silly,—we'll hire  it. And then we'll go to Rochester and buy heaps and heaps of things. Look here, let's each take as much as we can carry. But it's not sovereigns. They've got a man's head on one side and a thing like the ace of spades on the other. Fill your pockets with it, I tell you, and come along. You can talk as we go—if you must  talk."

Cyril sat down and began to fill his pockets.

"You made fun of me for getting father to have nine pockets in my suit," said he, "but now you see!"

They did. For when Cyril had filled his nine pockets and his handkerchief and the space between himself and his shirt front with the gold coins, he had to stand up. But he staggered, and had to sit down again in a hurry.


He staggered, and had to sit down again in a hurry.

"Throw out some of the cargo," said Robert. "You'll sink the ship, old chap. That comes of nine pockets."

And Cyril had to do so.

Then they set off to walk to the village. It was more than a mile, and the road was very dusty indeed, and the sun seemed to get hotter and hotter, and the gold in their pockets got heavier and heavier.

It was Jane who said, "I don't see how we're to spend it all. There must be thousands of pounds among the lot of us. I'm going to leave some of mine behind this stump in the hedge. And directly we get to the village we'll buy some biscuits; I know it's long past dinner-time." She took out a handful or two of gold and hid it in the hollows of an old hornbeam. "How round and yellow they are," she said. "Don't you wish they were made of gingerbread and we were going to eat them?"

"Well, they're not, and we're not," said Cyril. "Come on!"

But they came on heavily and wearily. Before they reached the village, more than one stump in the hedge concealed its little hoard of hidden treasure. Yet they reached the village with about twelve hundred guineas in their pockets. But in spite of this inside wealth they looked quite ordinary outside, and no one would have thought they could have more than a half-crown each at the outside. The haze of heat, the blue of the wood smoke, made a sort of dim misty cloud over the red roofs of the village. The four sat down heavily on the first bench to which they came. It happened to be outside the Blue Boar Inn.

It was decided that Cyril should go into the Blue Boar and ask for ginger-beer, because, as Anthea said, "It was not wrong for men to go into beer-saloons, only for children. And Cyril is nearer being a man than us, because he is the eldest." So he went. The others sat in the sun and waited.

"Oh, how hot it is!" said Robert. "Dogs put their tongues out when they're hot; I wonder if it would cool us at all to put out ours?"

"We might try," Jane said; and they all put their tongues out as far as ever they could go, so that it quite stretched their throats, but it only seemed to make them thirstier than ever, besides annoying everyone who went by. So they took their tongues in again, just as Cyril came back with ginger-beer.

"I had to pay for it out of my own money, though, that I was going to buy rabbits with," he said. "They wouldn't change the gold. And when I pulled out a handful the man just laughed and said it was card-counters. And I got some sponge-cakes too, out of a glass jar on the bar-counter. And some biscuits with caraways in."

The sponge-cakes were both soft and dry and the biscuits were dry too, and yet soft, which biscuits ought not to be. But the ginger-beer made up for everything.

"It's my turn now to try to buy something with the money," Anthea said; "I'm next eldest. Where is the pony-cart kept?"

It was at The Chequers, and Anthea went in the back way to the yard, because they all knew that little girls ought not to go into the bars of beer-saloons. She came out, as she herself said, "pleased but not proud."

"He'll be ready in a brace of shakes, he says," she remarked, "and he's to have one sovereign—or whatever it is—to drive us into Rochester and back, besides waiting there till we've got everything we want. I think I managed very well."

"You think yourself jolly clever, I daresay," said Cyril moodily. "How did you do it?"

"I wasn't jolly clever enough to go taking handfuls of money out of my pocket, to make it seem cheap, anyway," she retorted. "I just found a young man doing something to a horse's legs with a sponge and a pail. And I held out one sovereign, and I said—'Do you know what this is?' He said 'No,' and he'd call his father. And the old man came, and he said it was a spade guinea; and he said was it my own to do as I liked with, and I said 'Yes'; and I asked about the pony-cart, and I said he could have the guinea if he'd drive us into Rochester. And his name is S. Crispin. And he said, 'Right oh.' "

It was a new sensation to be driven in a smart pony-trap along pretty country roads; it was very pleasant too (which is not always the case with new sensations), quite apart from the beautiful plans of spending the money which each child made as they went along, silently of course and quite to itself, for they felt it would never have done to let the old innkeeper hear them talk in the affluent sort of way in which they were thinking. The old man put them down by the bridge at their request.

"If you were going to buy a carriage and horses, where would you go?" asked Cyril, as if he were only asking for the sake of something to say.

"Billy Peasemarsh, at the Saracen's Head," said the old man promptly. "Though all forbid I should recommend any man where it's a question of horses, no more than I'd take anybody else's recommending if I was a-buying one. But if your pa's thinking of a rig of any sort, there ain't a straighter man in Rochester, nor civiller spoken, than Billy, though I says it."

"Thank you," said Cyril. "The Saracen's Head."

And now the children began to see one of the laws of nature turn upside down and stand on its head like an acrobat. Any grown-up person would tell you that money is hard to get and easy to spend. But the fairy money had been easy to get, and spending it was not only hard, it was almost impossible. The trades-people of Rochester seemed to shrink, to a trades-person, from the glittering fairy gold ("furrin money" they called it, for the most part).

To begin with, Anthea, who had had the misfortune to sit on her hat earlier in the day, wished to buy another. She chose a very beautiful one, trimmed with pink roses and the blue breasts of peacocks. It was marked in the window, "Paris Model, three guineas."

"I'm glad," she said, "because it says guineas, and not sovereigns, which we haven't got."

But when she took three of the spade guineas in her hand, which was by this time rather dirty owing to her not having put on gloves before going to the gravel-pit, the black-silk young lady in the shop looked very hard at her, and went and whispered something to an older and uglier lady, also in black silk, and then they gave her back the money and said it was not current coin.

"It's good money," said Anthea, "and it's my own."

"I daresay," said the lady, "but it's not the kind of money that's fashionable now, and we don't care about taking it."

"I believe they think we've stolen it," said Anthea, rejoining the others in the street; "if we had gloves they wouldn't think we were so dishonest. It's my hands being so dirty fills their minds with doubts."

So they chose a humble shop, and the girls bought cotton gloves, the kind at a shilling, but when they offered a guinea the woman looked at it through her spectacles and said she had no change; so the gloves had to be paid for out of Cyril's money with which he meant to buy rabbits and so had the green imitation crocodile-skin purse at nine-pence which had been bought at the same time. They tried several more shops, the kinds where you buy toys and perfume and silk handkerchiefs and books, and fancy boxes of stationery, and photographs of objects of interest in the vicinity. But nobody cared to change a guinea that day in Rochester, and as they went from shop to shop they got dirtier and dirtier, and their hair got more and more untidy, and Jane slipped and fell down on a part of the road where a water cart had just gone by. Also they got very hungry, but they found no one would give them anything to eat for their guineas.

After trying two baker shops in vain, they became so hungry, perhaps from the smell of the cake in the shops, as Cyril suggested, that they formed a plan of campaign in whispers and carried it out in desperation. They marched into a third baker shop,—Beale was his name,—and before the people behind the counter could interfere each child had seized three new penny buns, clapped the three together between its dirty hands, and taken a big bite out of the triple sandwich. Then they stood at bay, with the twelve buns in their hands and their mouths very full indeed. The shocked baker's man bounded round the corner.

"Here," said Cyril, speaking as distinctly as he could, and holding out the guinea he got ready before entering the shops, "pay yourself out of that."

Mr. Beale snatched the coin, bit it, and put it in his pocket.


Mr. Beale snatched the coin, bit it, and put it in his pocket.

"Off you go," he said, brief and stern like the man in the song.

"But the change?" said Anthea, who had a saving mind.

"Change!" said the man, "I'll change you! Hout you goes; and you may think yourselves lucky I don't send for the police to find out where you got it!"

In the Gardens of the Castle the millionaires finished the buns, and though the curranty softness of these were delicious, and acted like a charm in raising the spirits of the party, yet even the stoutest heart quailed at the thought of venturing to sound Mr. Billy Peasemarsh at the Saracen's Head on the subject of a horse and carriage. The boys would have given up the idea, but Jane was always a hopeful child, and Anthea generally an obstinate one, and their earnestness prevailed.

The whole party, by this time indescribably dirty, therefore betook itself to the Saracen's Head. The yard-method of attack having been successful at The Chequers, was tried again here. Mr. Peasemarsh was in the yard, and Robert opened the business in these terms—

"They tell me you have a lot of horses and carriages to sell." It had been agreed that Robert should be spokesman, because in books it is always gentlemen who buy horses, and not ladies, and Cyril had had his go at the Blue Boar.

"They tell you true, young man," said Mr. Peasemarsh. He was a long lean man, with very blue eyes and a tight mouth and narrow lips.

"We should like to buy some, please," said Robert politely.

"I daresay you would."

"Will you show us a few, please? To choose from."

"Who are you a-kiddin of?" inquired Mr. Billy Peasemarsh. "Was you sent here of a message?"

"I tell you," said Robert, "we want to buy some horses and carriages, and a man told us you were straight and civil spoken, but I shouldn't wonder if he was mistaken"—

"Upon my sacred!" said Mr. Peasemarsh. "Shall I trot the whole stable out for your Honor's worship to see? Or shall I send round to the Bishop's to see if he's a nag or two to dispose of?"

"Please do," said Robert, "if it's not too much trouble. It would be very kind of you."

Mr. Peasemarsh put his hands in his pockets and laughed, and they did not like the way he did it. Then he shouted "Willum!"

A stooping ostler appeared in a stable door.

"Here, Willum, come and look at this 'ere young dook! Wants to buy the whole stud, lock, stock, and bar'l. And ain't got tuppence in his pocket to bless hisself with, I'll go bail!"

Willum's eyes followed his master's pointing thumb with contemptuous interest.

"Do 'e, for sure?" he said.

But Robert spoke, though both the girls were now pulling at his jacket and begging him to "come along." He spoke, and he was very angry; he said—

"I'm not a young duke, and I never pretended to be. And as for tuppence—what do you call this?" And before the others could stop him he had pulled out two fat handfuls of shining guineas, and held them out for Mr. Peasemarsh to look at. He did look. He snatched one up in his finger and thumb. He bit it, and Jane expected him to say, "The best horse in my stables is at your service." But the others knew better. Still it was a blow, even to the most desponding, when he said shortly—

"Willum, shut the yard doors;" and Willum grinned and went to shut them.

"Good-afternoon," said Robert hastily; "we shan't buy any horses now, whatever you say, and I hope it'll be a lesson to you." He had seen a little side gate open, and was moving towards it as he spoke. But Billy Peasemarsh put himself in the way.

"Not so fast, you young off-scouring!" he said. "Willum, fetch the pleece."

Willum went. The children stood huddled together like frightened sheep, and Mr. Peasemarsh spoke to them till the pleece arrived. He said many things. Among other things he said—

"Nice lot you are, aren't you, coming tempting honest men with your guineas!"

"They are  our guineas," said Cyril boldly.

"Oh, of course we don't know all about that, no more we don't—oh no—course not! And dragging little gells into it, too. 'Ere—I'll let the gells go if you'll come along to the pleece quiet."

"We won't be let go," said Jane heroically; "not without the boys. It's our money just as much as theirs, you wicked old man."

"Where'd you get it, then?" said the man, softening slightly, which was not at all what the boys expected when Jane began to call names.

Jane cast a silent glance of agony at the others.

"Lost your tongue, eh? Got it fast enough when it's for calling names with. Come, speak up! Where'd you get it?"

"Out of the gravel-pit," said truthful Jane.

"Next article," said the man.

"I tell you we did," Jane said. "There's a fairy there—all over brown fur—with ears like a bat's and eyes like a snail's, and he gives you a wish a day, and they all come true."

"Touched in the head, eh?" said the man in a low voice; "all the more shame to you boys dragging the poor afflicted child into your sinful burglaries."

"She's not mad; it's true," said Anthea; "there is  a fairy. If I ever see him again I'll wish for something for you; at least I would if vengeance wasn't wicked—so there!"

"Lor' lumme," said Billy Peasemarsh, "if there ain't another on 'em!"

And now Willum came back, with a spiteful grin on his face, and at his back a policeman, with whom Mr. Peasemarsh spoke long in a hoarse earnest whisper.

"I daresay you're right," said the policeman at last. "Anyway, I'll take 'em up on a charge of unlawful possession, pending inquiries. And the magistrate will deal with the case. Send the afflicted ones to a home, as likely as not, and the boys to a reformatory. Now then, come along, youngsters! No use making a fuss. You bring the gells along, Mr. Peasemarsh, sir, and I'll shepherd the boys."

Speechless with rage and horror, the four children were driven along the streets of Rochester. Tears of anger and shame blinded them, so that when Robert ran right into a passer-by he did not recognise her till a well-known voice said, "Well, if ever I did! Oh, Master Robert, whatever have you been a-doing of now?" And another voice, quite as well known, said, "Panty; want go own Panty!"

They had run into Martha and the Baby!


They had run into Martha and the Baby.

Martha behaved admirably. She refused to believe a word of the policeman's story, or of Mr. Peasemarsh's either, even when they made Robert turn out his pockets in an archway and show the guineas.

"I don't see nothing," she said. "You've gone out of your senses, you two! There ain't any gold there—only the poor child's hands, all over dirt, and like the very chimbley. Oh that I should ever see the day!"

And the children thought this very noble of Martha, even if rather wicked, till they remembered how the Fairy had promised that the servants should never notice any of the fairy gifts. So of course Martha couldn't see the gold, and so was only speaking the truth, and that was quite right, of course, but not extra noble.

It was getting dusk when they reached the police-station. The policeman told his tale to an inspector, who sat in a large bare room with a thing like a clumsy nursery-fender at one end to put prisoners in. Robert wondered whether it was a cell or a dock.

"Produce the coins, officer," said the inspector.

"Turn out your pockets," said the constable.

Cyril desperately plunged his hands in his pockets, stood still a moment, and then began to laugh—an odd sort of laugh that hurt, and that felt much more like crying. His pockets were empty. So were the pockets of the others. For of course at sunset all the fairy gold had vanished away.

"Turn out your pockets, and stop that noise," said the inspector.

Cyril turned out his pockets, every one of the nine which enriched his suit. And every pocket was empty.

"Well!" said the inspector.

"I don't know how they done it—artful little beggars! They walked in front of me the 'ole way, so as for me to keep my eye on them and not to attract a crowd and obstruct the traffic."

"It's very remarkable," said the inspector, frowning.

"If you've done a-browbeating of the innocent children," said Martha, "I'll hire a private carriage and we'll drive home to their papa's mansion. You'll hear about this again, young man!—I told you they hadn't got any gold, when you were pretending to see it in their poor helpless hands. It's early in the day for a constable on duty not to be able to trust his own eyes. As to the other one, the less said the better; he keeps the Saracen's Head, and he knows best what his liquor's like."

"Take them away, for goodness' sake," said the inspector crossly. But as they left the police-station he said, "Now then!" to the policeman and Mr. Peasemarsh, and he said it twenty times as crossly as he had spoken to Martha.


He said, "Now then!" to the policeman and Mr. Peasemarsh.

Martha was as good as her word. She took them home in a very grand carriage, because the carrier's cart was gone, and, though she had stood by them so nobly with the police, she was so angry with them as soon as they were alone for "trapesing into Rochester by themselves," that none of them dared to mention the old man with the pony-cart from the village who was waiting for them in Rochester. And so, after one day of boundless wealth, the children found themselves sent to bed in deep disgrace, and only enriched by two pairs of cotton gloves, dirty inside because of the state of the hands they had been put on to cover, an imitation crocodile-skin purse, and twelve penny buns, long since digested.

The thing that troubled them most was the fear that the old gentleman's guinea might have disappeared at sunset with all the rest, so they went down to the village next day to apologise for not meeting him in Rochester, and to see.  They found him very friendly. The guinea had not disappeared, and he had bored a hole in it and hung it on his watch-chain. As for the guinea the baker took, the children felt they could  not care whether it had vanished or not, which was not perhaps very honest, but on the other hand was not wholly unnatural. But afterwards this preyed on Anthea's mind, and at last she secretly sent twelve postage stamps by post to "Mr. Beale, Baker, Rochester." Inside she wrote, "To pay for the buns." I hope the guinea did disappear, for that baker was really not at all a nice man, and, besides, penny buns are seven for sixpence in all really respectable shops.


Walter de la Mare

Jim Jay

Do diddle di do,

Poor Jim Jay

Got stuck fast

In Yesterday.

Squinting he was,

On cross-legs bent,

Never heeding

The wind was spent.

Round veered the weathercock,

The sun drew in—

And stuck was Jim

Like a rusty pin. . . .

We pulled and we pulled

From seven till twelve,

Jim, too frightened

To help himself.

But all in vain.

The clock struck one,

And there was Jim

A little bit gone.

At half-past five

You scarce could see

A glimpse of his flapping


And when came noon,

And we climbed sky-high,

Jim was a speck

Slip-slipping by.

Come tomorrow,

The neighbours say,

He'll be past crying for;

Poor Jim Jay.